Are many of you like me, where I sit down to begin researching a specific person in my family tree and before I know it I am on the opposite side looking up the exact opposite person?
These are the moments when I take a deep breath and remind myself to focus.
But then I decide to peruse a webinar (presently my only subscription – www.familytreewwebinars.com) on FAN’s (friends, family, associates and neighbors) and Elizabeth Shown Mills makes it look so easy with her arrows and people with common names and as soon as the webinar is over I rush to my own censuses for my Andrew and Susannah and no one has the same names, and they are in a different county in 1850 to 1860 to 1870 and…
And I tell myself to take a deep breath and focus.
I love learning but when you sit down to begin do you ever just become overwhelmed with what to begin working on first?
Sometimes I start with my grandparents and look at what I am missing. My Grandma Blair (Anna Maria Morgart) is pretty complete but I am missing the 1930 census of my grandfather, her husband, Leroy Blair.
Leroy passed away in 1975 when I was 2 years old. I’ve discussed with my dad if he knew where his dad may have been in 1930. In the late 1920’s Leroy was working in the mines, like his dad. His dad (my great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Blair) died in 1926 when the mine he was working in collapsed, crushing his chest. Apparently Leroy had a close call in the same spot as his dad, and that’s when he left mining behind him.
My dad has also told me that Leroy moved to Akron, Ohio before he met my Grandma (Akron is where they ended up settling in the 1950’s). I’ve always wondered if it was around 1930. I’ve looked in both Ohio and Pennsylvania to see if I could find Leroy Blair in the 1930 census. I’ve even used his original name of Charley Wilmer Blair (before his mom decided she liked Leroy better) on the chance he decided to go by it instead. Still no luck.
I’ll admit I get a little closed minded when it comes to how to misspell my last name. Blair is just not a name that is misspelled. Blare, Belare, Belaire, Blain. I’ve tried just an “L” for the first name, sometimes I’ve just used the surname (shocker, when putting in the misspellings it always comes up with Blair as a result).
I’ll admit I haven’t tried going page by page through all the counties of Summit, OH; Blair, PA; Cambria, PA; Bedford, PA; Huntingdon, PA; Fulton, PA; or Somerset, PA because he has family in all of these areas so he could be anywhere.
Or maybe he had a rental (more like a boarding room) in any of these areas and was just missed (this is my dad’s thought). Or this was when he was in the process of moving to Akron to work in the cottage cheese plant (he could never eat cottage cheese again after this experience, according to my dad).
Would you believe I have the same issue with my great-grandfather, Charles Jackson Morgart (who would have been Leroy’s father-in-law) in the 1900 census?
And what is considered an “exhaustive search”? (Well, looking through all the pages through all those vicinities I am sure is a good start).
This is where research logs come in handy.
I have always been a very unorganized genealogist. That I had tables made in excel highlighting who I was looking for when I went to Bedford County 18 months ago was HUGE!
I am the girl who sits down and decides “I think I’ll do this today”. But in 2021 I am going to be more organized. I am going to begin logging what I’ve searched in and effort to keep myself on track.
And as I’ve read/watched/listened repeatedly by all kinds of professionals – it’s not always what you find that is important, but what you don’t find.
Research logs help you keep track of the sources you have already searched so you don’t duplicate your efforts.
And if you haven’t guessed, they should help you minimize your need to take a deep breath and focus – because that’s their main purpose!
So my primary goal of 2021 is to focus, focus, focus! I am determined to expand my horizons to books and other documentation that’s not just found by putting names in a search box.
So cheers to your 2021 genealogical resolutions! Feel free to share what you hope to accomplish in the comments below.