You have worked and worked to try to locate a specific item about an ancestor. With no success — it is referred to as ‘hitting‘ a brick wall. Every researcher — numerous times will experience that feeling. You just can’t locate a certain bit of information.
While attending a genealogical program recently, the speaker covered about not finding one specific bit of information on an ancestor. Several members of his lineage had come on ships from Switzerland to settle in the mid-west in America around the turn of the 20th century. He had located the manifest on each sibling, including his own direct line, but there was one sibling, a great grand aunt he could not find. He was sure, Carolina, had come to America but did not know when and on what ship.
Now the presenter was very experienced in research, but this was his brick wall. So hearing his situation, I collected from his presentation what information I might need — such as the family surname and time frame to see if a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ might be of assistance.
One of the big items I have found is the various spellings for given and surnames. So since his family surname was unusual – ‘Zurbruegg’ and could be misspelled many different ways, I thought to search the aunt’s name using her given name, Carolina.
First using the Ellis Island database (since her other siblings came into New York), I put in her given name and the date range of 1898 to 1902. What luck on the first attempt. I found Carolina Zurbingg on the ship LaTouraine, which arrived in New York on April 22, 1900. Looking at the handwritten ship manifest, I could see how the name was misspelled when it was transcribed. This misspelling was enough to throw the researcher off. The other information on the manifest matched with her approximate age and homeland.
I was then able to find her marriage on FamilySearch.org on April. 29, 1900. She was coming to America and then to Wisconsin as the bride of Christa Abbuehl, which did match the known marriage of Carolina.
So just someone else looking for this specific item and from a different approach, tore down this brick wall. If you do not have someone to take a fresh look at one of your research problems, try approaching it from a different direction. Using a person’s given name(s) can be very helpful.
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