Saturday, March 9, 2013
I've been working on some family history off and on for about year. In the beginning I made some assumptions about other people's research. I assumed that others took the time to analyze the details of the evidence provided and in good faith record their findings. Willy-nilly and lackadaisical analysis is actually more common. I've made plenty mistakes, I'll continue to make more but it's not due to lazy thinking.
Anyway, I write that part above to come clean on my weakness- geography. It is touted repeatedly, and with good reason, as an indespensible tool and resource for family history revelations. Just as one uses time to get folks in order - one also needs to uses space to put them in their place. And I am just awful at spatial analysis. Once you know you are terrible at something you are either inspired to improve or avoid it at all costs. I'm the avoid sort.
So once many, many other avenues of investigation had petered out, I was left with maps, cartographic references, atlases, survey lines, and rail road routes. I had looked at the shifting borders of Poland, Prussia, and Germany. I had already studied morphing county lines in Missouri and Arkansas to learn where records were actually held. I needed to dig another way.
I would have never thought to have such success with something simple with a geographical flavor to it. I found 2 birth certificates and 7 death certificates. I merely kept going county by county in, Texas for example, and then went by name. I know- dead simple, right? Although they are not indexed, searching by the then revealed informant in the same or neighboring county (of course not by memory, with the county map in another browser) kept the thread going for quite some time.