Is your Family Tree Naked?

So many times I have been asked to help someone do their research and when I look at their family tree, there are very few branches because either every family had only one child or none of the siblings were added to the tree.

You may be looking for William Bishop and there are many of them in the area but the one you are looking for had a sister named Patience and a brother named Thomas Jefferson.  If you exclude the siblings you risk missing hints on ® and similar sites as well as not looking at records pertaining to Patience and her family as well as Thomas Jeffersons.  You may find that Patience’s husband puts in a will that W. Bishop is named executor to his will and given guardianship of the minor children.  Or, if you lose site of William you might be able to determine his father from his father’s estate records showing children William, Patience, and T.J. and it might indicate that William is now living in Coosa County, Alabama.

At the same time, you may learn about William Bishop through his wife’s father’s estate or land records.  If William was married more than once, don’t limit that research to only the wife of your person of interest.  Research all wife’s parents and siblings.  I am looking at one in St Mary’s County, Maryland, where the father never mentions his daughter but leaves his son-in-law, Hopewell Addams, half his estate for “Love and Affection.”  He must have been some kind of son-in-law!

By putting the person of interest in context with his whole family and the spouse and spouse’s family, you better your chances of finding the information you seek.  While it might be a challenge occasionally when there are 14 siblings, but you will be glad if it pays off.

Think about how you can find your person of interest in the census.  If you do not consider the whole family you might have the wrong one.  That was a mistake a distant cousin of mine made concerning the census of where my Great Grandfather, General Jackson Thomas, was about 8.  Seems there was another G. Jackson Thomas in the county who was 7 and she did not look at the entire family to notice that the father was not Banner, the mother was not Mary, and none of the siblings lined up.  While there were also other indicators it was the wrong family, had she looked at all the names she would have caught it.

Speaking of General Jackson’s family, Appling County did not assemble the U. S. Census pages in the correct order and 45-year-old Banner is the last name on one page and at the top of the next page is a 20 something Mary and an infant instead of a 40ish year old and several kids.  A retired archivist advised me to go to the archives and look at the official records which bound into a book and it was that book that was scanned by all of the agencies.  By looking at the date the enumerator went to each area, I found that the pages are out of true order and were numbered based on the way it was bound.  So Banner’s family is about ten pages before the page where his name is located.

Final thought, do not limit your research to just the direct line of your research if you want to stay on the correct path.