Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Identifying Revolutionary War Era Parents

-->Five Basics Steps
Beating The “Now What?” Syndrome

In genealogy research where each region has records reflecting its community and where each era and generation of records evolve, we are reminded daily that historical record searching is never static.  Yet, there are still some basic guidelines to follow. Here is a sample of my strategy for identifying Revolutionary War Era parentage.  It’s simple, but it puts me back in action when I’m paralyzed with the “Now What?” Syndrome.  

1) Land Inheritance. One way to prove parentage is to prove land inheritance.  These records can show when and where the land was probated and to whom.  Often the eldest son, if not a minor, inherited the land.  However, the land could also be left to the wife.  In the interest of minor children, names may be revealed showing kinship. Records can also show the relationship of siblings or other family members.

2)  Church Records. During the Revolutionary War Era churches kept a lot of family records to include children baptism, christening, marriage banns, and licenses.  You are doing a disservice if you haven’t researched these genealogical gems.

3) Guardianship. Mothers were not usually granted guardianship of their minor children during the Revolutionary War Era, but if they did, it usually was through the court system. So a guardianship record should be available for any minors.  These records would list minor heirs and guardians and maybe even other inventory and probated information. 

4) Newspapers. Don’t forget old newspapers. Sure they usually aren’t indexed, but you may get lucky with a local library or State Archive.  Some of these repositories (like both the Mo. State Archives and the Kansas Historical Society), may have a surname index in their card catalog.  Don’t underestimate the holdings at these repositories. At minimum, old newspapers are often preserved on microfilm at these repositories.  What a great way to spend a bad climate day!

5)  Cluster Analysis. To show direct lineage there may not be a direct line. Keep alternatives in mind.  For example by tracing a sibling and proving the brother-hood connection you could be lead back to the parents.  Through an official printed biography on a sibling, you may find parents and siblings listed together. Don’t forget to keep your research open to include family clusters and friends.  Through these relationships you may be able to prove parentage.

There’s so much more you can do for this era to find parent names.  But the idea is to get back into action.  More in depth analysis of migratory clusters, especially after 1830, can lead you back to the home record source.  Keep that in mind when looking at census records.  I always write down information on 10-20 family names living around the direct line.  This technique can lead to married names of the women and even tips on recovering maiden names.  But that is another blog. 

Happy searching for today!

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist

Originally posted 5 Aug. 2010