Waiting For the Mail
The Internet is so immediate, a multitude of names and dates at your fingertips on various lines in different centuries. There is always someone who has your line back to Adam and Eve, a King of England or George Washington. Some of those are easy to debunk. In particular, George Washington didn’t have children. At some point the linked genealogies scare you, offer so much data with so little sources that you know, you have sit back, do it yourself, gather better data and keep better source records.
You have interviewed every family member who will still talk to you. You have done all available census work. You have located all the names in the social security death benefits index. You have found wonderful Find-a-grave cemetery photo records. You are 3, 5, 7 or more generations back and you don’t have proof of the next generation (even though the linked site may have some options, suggestions, clues or just purely names). You have sent away for the pertinent death, birth and marriage certificates, pension file, obituary, probate file, funeral record, deeds and social security administration form – ss5 or all of them. You have ordered books and microfilm on Inter Library Loan (ILL). You are waiting for the mail to bring you the key link. Knowing all genealogy can not be done on the Internet, you have sent for an original source document that will open up the portals of the next generation. But you have to wait for the mail!!…
Watching the Mailbox
Before you start on another path be certain all of the time consuming avenues have been covered:
- Review death certificate for parentage.
- Review the spouse’s death certificate for wife’s maiden name.
- Order form ss5 from the Social Security Administration.
- Obtain the funeral record from the local funeral home.
- Obtain a burial record or plot card from the local cemetery.
- Check the County Probate records for an estate.
- Check the County Recorder for deeds after death.
- Examine each of the siblings and children’s birth and death certificates.
- Find the Bible record.
- Read the obituary – Newspaper Microfilm ordered on Inter Library Loan (ILL) or RAOGK – Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. While this site has been shuttered since 16 Oct. 2011, I hope Bridgett Schneider’s husband may find a way to reopen it sometime in the future. What a resource it was!
- The family should to be brought forward until at least all of the grandchildren are identified and preferably all of the great grandchildren. Check to see if any women in the bunch lived nearby, were adults in the 1940s and still alive today. They might have better insight into their grandmother and some stories of growing up with her. Can someone corroborate the story of her parentage?
- Any and all of those grandchildren could be contacted by letter for more information. Some people telephone cousins right away, but given their potential ages, be respectful of the generational difference and write first.
While you are waiting for the needed proof to arrive in the mail, the links needed to set you clearly on the path of the previous generation you can:
- Clean the house.
- Do chores.
- Rake leaves.
- Shovel snow.
- Plant flowers.
- Weed the garden.
- Make dinner.
- Do taxes.
- Write thank you notes.
- Update Facebook.
- Start a Google+.
- Organize the garage.
- Start another line.
- Begin one of your spouse’s lines.
- Begin an in-law’s line.
- Develop a hypothesis for her parentage.
- Go back in time with two conflicting/opposing hypotheses.
- Order more books and microfilm on ILL.
- Order microfilm from SLC delivered to the local LDS family history library.
- Order microfilm from the appropriate State Library and Archives delivered to the local library.
So instead of chores, while you wait for the linking document, the proof of relationship, a death certificate, form ss5 from Baltimore or microfilm to arrive thru ILL for an obituary, create a hypothesis and try to prove or disprove the match from one family to the one next. Search the next census for a subject with the same first name and age in a specific town or county. Match neighbors in one census to neighbors in the previous census, looking for clues; brothers and sisters really did marry brothers and sisters in a neighboring family. Look for birth place anomalies; amongst tons of Texans those with Georgia and Alabama parentage might stand out. Review unusual given names, Avery, Leander, Estes, Ryan, Millard, Curtis, Benedict, and Randolph can stand out in a deluge of William, John, Thomas and Robert.
Many genealogists have over time researched a line that came hard or easy but for some reason they took to it and it later proved NOT to be the case. A pile of your favorite non relatives ensues, sixth cousins once removed who no longer are cousins. When you see that line up on the linked genealogies, you know they haven’t finished the work on that family. Sometimes you share and the site gets updated and sometimes you share and they don’t believe you or just don’t want to take it down. It’s a good thing when this happens, it feels terrible at the time, but it makes you doubt the unsourced, the tangled, and the unclear. And that is a good thing.
Sometimes waiting for the proof sends you on an even better path, sometimes with other cousins who are as interested in the real story and sometimes alone you will break new trails. Keep your eye on the mailbox.