While working on the family genealogy it is common to run into a few crazy roadblocks strewn across the paper trail hiding key information. The few techniques outlined here, can help bypass the roadblocks and unearth the desired information.
Utilize family stories. Family stories usually hold grains of truth that can be the catalyst needed to redirect a search and produce results. Such is the case with a Great Grandmother whose death records could not be found. The family always said she died of Tuberculosis when her daughter was 3 years old. A search for Tuberculosis asylums in the area showed one close to her home but in a different county. By looking in the records of this county her death certificate was found.
Give years a bit of leeway. The year of birth on census, passenger lists and other documents may not be the year on the birth certificate so bracket the year by at least 2 years or more to catch a wayward document or two. One great grandfather, either by his own design or clerical error had his birth year fluctuate 2 or more years with every document including his marriage record and all census records.
Don’t just go by names as they appear in modern day. From clerical error to Americanizing a name the family name known today may not be the name on documents. Check to see how the country of origin spells the name compared to how it is spelled in the States to give a starting point. First names will also change, usually to seem more American. A great grandmother was named Anna Marie Nyborg at birth but by the time she married she was Mary Ann Nyberg.
Use proven information to help verify found information. Finding a document that seems to fit but the name or date isn’t exact can be checked with documents known to be right. Finding a birth certificate with information that almost matched a great grandmother was discarded as the birth occurred in 1897. Her marriage certificate was among the family papers and she married in 1907 which, would be at the age of 10 if 1897 was her birth year.
Other helpful hints. While the census, birth, marriage and death certificates are extremely important don’t forget passenger lists, military records and naturalization papers. Passenger lists can give country of origin and final destination information. Naturalization papers can give two spellings of a family name if both spellings are commonly used or if one is the original and the other the American version. Military records have names, birth dates, naturalization dates and country of origin. Each new document can help verify other information so that when it is all compiled the family tree holds only members that belong.
Above all enjoy the adventure of traveling in time collecting the nuggets of information and humanizing the names in the family tree.