Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brick wall busters

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Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

IMAG0180Copyright © 2013 Edie Reyes, used with permission

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Copyright © 2013 Edie Reyes, used with permission

I had such a good time last week presenting “Brick Wall Busters” to the Augusta Genealogical Society.  There was a great turnout and the presentation was well-received.  I want to put the presentation on the blog using the PowerPoint slides but I only use the slides as an outline when I am speaking so I will be filling it in with some additional narrative.  It isn’t the same as hearing it live because I tend to get very animated when I speak.  You will also miss all of the great questions that were raised and all of the tangents we went off on but I think it will still be fun. 


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

10 comments:

  1. Thanks, Michele!

    Wish I could hear it, but I look forward to the ones to come!

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  2. I am excited to try your technique. I am looking for my husbands 3x great grandfather. All that was written in the transcribed information was "father 1780-1847" and "mother 1789-1831" The writer knew what their names were.

    I have been searching for them for a few years, but now I guess I have to get my spreadsheet ready.

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  3. I hope the info I present helps you. I have a few tricks up my sleeve :)

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  4. What do you do when the brick wall crumbled because a fire burned the information? Long Island New York is where a grandfather of mine is known to have been born. 13-May-1730(Morris Lewis). But trying to find a will, death certificate(ab.1807), or otherwise from him or his wife(Phebe Doughty) is impossible to find because it is said the documents were destroyed. A book written for the Odell family has the most data we can go by(Minnie A. Lewis Pool, Odell Genealogy: United States and Canada (1635-1935), Ten Generations in America in Direct Line.) But anything else trying to find a parent or death certificate proves we have a brick wall that can't be solved. Nothing around other family can we find nor other families married into. Suggestions for what else to look for, or how else to find the true identity of this lineage?

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  5. A couple of things. You said that "it is said the documents were destroyed." Have you checked with the town office or county clerk to verify this yourself? I would also check with the NY archives. Sometimes not all documents are lost in a fire. You need to know if anything survived and if so what.

    This sounds like you will need to prove your case using an indirect evidence proof argument. One of your best friends in this case will be deeds. Another thing you will want to search are court records. Since court records are not normally indexed it will be tedious but you can find out all kinds of cool stuff. Were there any sort of local censuses taken? Was any of this stuff also lost in the fire? You will really need to know what is available and what isn't. Tax records might help a bit. At the very least they might give you the names of potential fathers for Morris. Tax records were usually submitted to the state and thus saved from fires (at least here in the south. I can't say for sure for NY). Again, it is imperative to find out what is actually available.

    Here is one trick for burnt counties. Depending on when the fire occurred in relation to the life span of your person of interest, many times people would go to the courthouse to generate substitute records when the originals were lost. People actually held the originals of deeds and wills not the courthouse. The deeds and wills at the courthouse were clerk's copies. People could bring the originals in to the courthouse after the fire and have them reentered into the books.

    I have a question about the book you referenced. Does this book have any sources listed for the information? Is there any way you can contact the author? Reading compiled genealogy books can be very frustrating if they have information you need but don't have any sources to back it up. The best you can do is try and contact the author is he/she is still living.

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  6. Thanks for the reply.
    In all of this research, I am a third of the resources being used. My Father and Brother In Law(History Major)have also been running this down. My BIL has been steady at it for several years, my father, off and on most of his life. My BIL and myself have never been to NY to look into it physically so that is one avenue we lack, yet all the evidence we have gathered through other peoples searches, our own and internet knowledge, we still have this brick wall to conquer. As for the book, from Minnie Pool, yes, her thorough research(very extensive beyond all of ours combined)has also noted the missing documents being damaged. She is no longer alive, as the book was published 1935. She spent 25 years researching as an Iowa State Historian. Everything has sources documented. What isn't proved by source, is ruled valid by indirect evidence she explains well.
    I see from your reply I have these options:
    deeds, court records, census', tax records, and wills. My BIL has a good deal of these through the lifespan of many of my grandfathers(Especially census), but little found on Morris. Not sure why.
    This has been for me a VERY enjoyable experience as I am reading about my family and the day to day living they encountered so different compared to today and knowing what quality of people they really were then. Steady, hardworking, self sufficient, always trying to make things better and determined....even somewhat stubborn....a lot like me. weird
    Thanks again for your help
    Marc

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  7. 1) You don't have to physically go to NY. Call their local records keeper and ask. Also call the state archives because sometimes old records have been transferred there and the local clerk isn't aware of it because it happened long before they arrived. Also check to see what all has been microfilmed for that town/county. That will give you a sense of what might be missing.

    2) If Minnie's book is well-sourced, what did she use as a source for your grandfather's parents? If there is no direct evidence source does her indirect evidence proof argument seem valid? If you can qualify her research as credible there is no reason not to use her book as a source. This would be no different than me citing a proof argument that was published in the NGSQ that concerned my family.

    3) The reason I named the other types of documents is that sometimes different documents were stored in different places and even if there was a fire not everything may have been lost. That is why it is so important to find out exactly what was lost.

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  8. As of now I do have source records from my son back 9 generations. This takes us to Morris. I started with using Ancestry, Familytree, findagrave, and a couple other sites to give me an idea where to start. I validated all of these with birth certificates, death certificates, marriage documents and census information. I have seen some take another name 'Isaac' and assume he as the father, but there is nothing as proof to back it up, whether direct or indirect. I have also followed the migration patterns of many "Lewis" families and now have a few leads that I am looking into to see if I may a connection. One of my younger sons was able to show and tell what has been done so far and it's peeked some curiosity in some of the parents.

    Thanks for replying. You have been helpful and encouraging on this endeavor I am working to complete.

    Marc

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  9. It sounds like you are doing a great job! You are working your way backward in time and you are gathering the correct documents along the way using indexes to help you find those records. Sometimes brick walls take years to solve. I have one that I have been working on for at least 10 years. I don't work on it full time but I pick it back up every so often and work on it some more. I am not out of leads yet :)

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