Saturday, October 15, 2011

Generational Research Game

Distinguish Common Names
My hubby would like to delve into more depth on his lineage. Pretty hodgepodge European on mother's side, but his father's (and hubby's interest) is Irish. Problem in searching is seems all of the Irish who came over had the same names. HaHa how do you know which one is right?  Yvette
Analyze, Analyze, Analyze
Perhaps a3Gen really stands for Analyze, Analyze, Analyze genealogy documents, data and information! At least that's what I thought when Yvette sent me the above inquiry (part of a longer email). Not to simplify the issue, but truly, this is where your analytical and research skills should shine.  You want to start with the most recent generation and work yourself backwards. And, the following suggestions only work if you take the time with each generation.

Let the Games Begin
The true purpose of this "game" is to eliminate the contestants who should not be in your family tree.

  • The goal is to identify who's the last Michael McCabe standing!
  • The winner gets a full scale scrutiny.  Of course there may be 2-5 still standing at this point.

It helps to know a few documents that can lead you to your answer.  The key however, is to not limit yourself to one generation.  To unravel this puzzle, you must open your circle and not only follow immediate family members but also associates.  Then with a organizational chart, you slowly start matching family units.

Eliminate The Obvious
First we  narrow common name ancestors by age, residence and careers. Familiar family names also helps (but usually they are the culprit). Census records may reveal when they came to the USA, let's not forget that hint.

Secondly we start pulling documents.  At this point we have no idea which Michael McCabe is the right one, but at least they are all about the same age, from the same region, and are all sheep butchers and all came to USA in with a couple of years of 1896 (let's leave room for reporting errors).

Of course we still don't know which Mike, Michael, and Mikal is the right one.  And we've only narrowed it to 23 possibles (or may 67?). Not really a working number, so we use a few more parameter.  If you are lucky, all parents will reveal Mary and Joseph (or whomever; but remember you must leave allowance for nicknames. Plus given names like Mary and Joseph in our Irish research is of little help.).

Thirdly, let's do a neighbor/community analysis. Remember to find the one, we look at 100. So since immigrants usually migrated with family and friends, we use this fact to our advantage. 

A Dozen Records
Next Step (officially #4):  Pull the following documents for parents, spouses, children, siblings. This generational information will at least help you eliminate possible family units that are not related or are cousin, not your direct line. 
  1. Census Records: residence, occupation, birth place, age
  2. Birth Records: parents data and birth place
  3. Death Records: parents names and spouses are listed as well as vital dates are provided
  4. Military Service Records: birth date, enlistment place/residence, beneficiary and next of kin, last pay vouchers may show the location of where a veteran will live after service
  5. Employment Records: beneficiary and spouse information, residence and vital records to include birth date
  6. Obituary: family members listed, residence, birth data, career, service records
  7. Cemetery/Funeral Records:  family information in funeral programs, veteran record information, residence, and informant names
  8. Wills/Probate: gives children and spouse names, maybe even grandchildren or great grandchildren 
  9. Land Records and Maps: an analysis of land records may in reveal spouse information and other family members. 
  10. County/Town Histories: an often overlooked resource, but should be reviewed for family information
  11. Immigration Records: remember to note if they were going to be residing with a family member. This has been the final clue for me several times.
  12.  Naturalization records.  Remember witnesses can also be your key.
 There are so many more records that can help, but the goal is to gather data and organize it into family units.

Let's do crafts. 
Get a large board, or wall (ok the computer will work, but not quite as fun), and arrange people in family units. Now remember you are only going one generation at a time, and everything must align with the generation you are working with.  Then one step at a time you will end on the other side of the pond.

Yes, it's time consuming, but at a3Genealogy we call it the Generational Research Game.

Kathleen Brandt

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