Sunday, October 14, 2012

Don't forget the collateral lines- Brickwalls

Don't fall into the trap of wearing blinders when doing research and only focusing on our direct family lineage. The trail may run cold with our own direct line, but a sibling may have a rich paper trail that helps us identify our lineage. When I first started doing my family research I started my search with my mothers family line of Stevens. I was able to trace the line very quickly back three generations, but I was stuck on Seymour. In the early stages of learning genealogy I was always concerned with my direct family line and did not pay attention to the collateral lines. Seymour would be a brick wall for me for almost thirty years. Understand that I began my genealogy journey when I was thirteen. One day I decided to take a look at the line again to break the Seymour brick wall. I knew very little about his family other than his migration pattern from his birth in Massachusetts to his death in Fairfield, Huron, Ohio. The time period was early nineteenth century and did not have a very large paper trail. The one thing I did know was that he had a brother named Paul who lived by him in Huron County. Reviewing census records the two brothers were always close together. They bought and sold land together. There was a lot of crossing of paths for these two. I knew they had come from Monroe, Ashtabula, Ohio in the 1820's. When I searched the census and tax records Seymour and Paul were right next to each other in this county. The connection was very strong. There were many Stevens in this county and they lived in very close proximity to each other. Now to eliminate the suspects. My first search was in the Probate records for the county. It was here that I hit pay dirt. There was a Paul that died in the 1830's that had another Paul that was his executor. I had noticed the elder Paul in tax records next to my Paul and Seymour. When reading the will it mentioned Paul Jr and Seymour both listed as living in Huron County Ohio as his sons. There were also letters in the file back and forth from Paul Jr that were post marked at Fairfield, Huron, Ohio. The amazing part for me was able to trace Paul Sr back to when his family came to American in the 1630's. Did I mention to he was a Revolutionary War solider. The sad part was it only took thirty years. Always look at those that are around your family. Especially those that share the same name. Understand their possible relationship to your ancestor. Don't fall into the trap of wearing blinders.

1 comment:

Mariann Regan said...

It was good that you had the will, to know which was the father and which was the son. And you make a very good point that up until that time you had not realized there were two Pauls. In our family we have two Tom Kirvens on the 1790 census in NC. One is the father and one is the son. After 1790, we have a death date for one. But we have no wills! So we don't know which one died, and which one lived for thirty more years. We have competing theories. Maybe someday we'll find a record with another clue. Thanks for this post!