Archive for ‘Brick Walls: Genealogy’

January 31, 2013

Who Were the Parents of Margaret Carpenter, born about 1840?

A while back, I posted the joyful news that I’d found Margaret (McConnell) Carpenter’s year of death among her late husband’s estate records. Margaret has always been a bit of a mystery. Like many women of her era, her history remains hidden by a society that considered her to be an extension of her husband and not necessarily a person in her own right. Parts of her life can be pieced together from land, court, and census records, but parts remain unknown, and may always remain so.

One aspect of her life that I’ve always been curious about is her appearance in the 1850 U. S. census with, in addition to several of her younger children, a girl named Margaret Carpenter, who was born about 1840 in Macon Co., NC, where the family lived.1 Many researchers believe the younger Margaret was the youngest child of William and Margaret (McConnell) Carpenter, but court records may paint a different story.

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January 24, 2013

The Darnell-Teague Connection

Harrison Darnell was my great-great-great-great grandfather. He was born by his own statement on 15 April 1815 in Wilkes County, North Carolina.1 His mother was Catherine Darnell,2 a somewhat mysterious woman who moved her small family from Wilkes County, North Carolina, to first Spartanburg District and then Pickens District, South Carolina, before settling finally in Rabun County, Georgia.

Harrison was supposedly the son of Catharine’s first husband, whose name is unknown. She married second to a Darnell, whose name Harrison took, and then a third time to Benjamin Grist, a veteran of the Revolutionary War who was himself a widower. Of these suppositions, the only one that has thus far been documented is Catherine’s marriage to Benjamin Grist, which took place on 2 April 1834 in Pickens District, South Carolina.3

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January 16, 2013

Possible Relatives of James R. Roberts, Jackson Co., GA

A while back, I compared select tax records against U. S. federal census records for male adult Roberts living in Jackson County, Georgia. The research described in that post is part of my research into the natal family of James R. Roberts, my great-great-great grandfather, whose ancestry is a brick wall I’ve been trying to knock down for years.

Below is an outline of what I’ve gathered to date, so that other Roberts researchers can see how I think part of James’ family might fit together. I want to emphasize that my research is not complete, and much of what follows cannot be considered as proof or even evidence; in other words, this is the direction in which the records accumulated thus far seem to be leading. Please bear that in mind while reading this post.

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April 2, 2012

Of Tax Records and Federal Censuses: Roberts Men in Jackson Co., GA, 1849 – 1851

James R. Roberts (1828 – 1891) was my great-great-great-grandfather. His ancestry is a brick wall I’ve been chipping away at for several years. So far, I’ve identified at least two and possibly three siblings, but I still don’t know who his parents were.

One of the first records sets used to research 19th century ancestors in the US is the federal decennial censuses. James was married in 1853 in Jackson Co., GA, and all indications point to him living there for the remainder of his life. His brother, William, was enumerated in Jackson County from 1850 through 1880, and James was enumerated there in 1860, 1870, and 1880, but I have never been able to find him in the 1850 free population schedule. This bothers me quite a bit. If only I could find him in 1850, I often think, then perhaps I would find the evidence I need to link him to his parents. But there he is not, no matter how often I look or how thoroughly I search.

Fortunately, Georgia researchers have other records to draw from, including the many extant county tax records. Jackson County has a rich set of tax digests extending from the county’s earliest days through most of the 19th century with very few gaps. I had a little time last week, so I hopped on down to the courthouse in Jefferson, Jackson County’s county seat, and spent the afternoon reading those digests. I focused on the years 1849, 1850, and 1851, because those years’ tax records act as a substitute and supplement for the 1850 federal census.

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January 20, 2012

More, Please!

Last year, a potential client approached me to perform research in a nearby county on an ancestral family. This client had never performed research before, instead relying on the work of others, but was interested in moving this particular family back in time a generation. After consulting with me and the others who had performed previous research, the client decided not to hire me because all the records had already been searched. The belief was, amongst that group, that there was no further information to be found pertinent to that family or the research problem because they had already gathered all documents created by or for the ancestor in question.

I strongly disagreed and explained why, but still lost a client over a common misconception, that all there is to research is extracting information from records about a particular ancestor.

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May 30, 2011

Finding Parents for Ethel (Penland) Ritchie

Brick walls in our ancestry can come in many forms, but they usually boil down to the inability to extend a lineage. Often, a thorough search of extant records can help break down this barrier. Sometimes, however, the solution can be much less arduous. Such is the case with Ethel Lee (Penland) Ritchie.

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April 5, 2010

Update: Priority Surnames

A while back, I wrote about pinpointing my priority surnames in order to provide a better focus to my personal research. I have had a bit of luck learning more about a few of those ancestors, and wanted to share a little of what I’ve found.

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September 3, 2009

The Curious Manner of Lazarus Tilly’s Will

A friend of mine asked me to look into the Tilly family of Rabun County, Georgia a few weeks ago. While doing so, I ran across the last will and testament of Lazarus Tilly, which was written November 30, 1839 and proven in court during the March Term, 1841, in Rabun County.1 In his will, Lazarus named his wife, Sarah, and children Alfred Tilly, Elizabeth Millender, Polly Calwell, Margaret Owens, Lewis Tilly, John Tilly, and Nancy Holcombe.

In and of itself the will does not seem strange, but further research into contemporary court records illuminates an oddity: two of the named children were deceased at the time Lazarus wrote his will.

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June 30, 2009

The Crew of the Little Lulu

This post was written for the 75th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, “Justice and Independence”.

I was fortunate enough to have three grandfathers, and all three served in World War II. My mother’s father, Lake Ledford, served in the US Navy. My father’s stepfather, Ned Burrell, was in the Army. And my father’s father, Thad J. Watson, Sr., served in the Army Air Corps.

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