Additional Ideas Just Placed of How to Search for the Elusive Ancestor (click on these 6 Ideas’ Links):
One of the keys to doing research on your ancestors is to be patient. From there you can figure out using some of these suggestions of what you might be missing in finding those elusive ancestors.
The name is very important. Never just search with what you believe is a known name or even what name you have from later records such as a death certificate. Many of the earlier vital records, news articles, city directories, censuses, military records, even family Bible record could have a variety of different names, especially a person’s given names.
It was very common in the 19th century and most of the 20th century in newspaper articles that just a person’s initials were used. Keep in mind the first and middle and initials could also be flipped. A David Henry Jones; might be H. Dave Jones, or D. H. Jones or D. Harry Jones, or even a bit of a nickname such as Davey H. Jones. You do have to search all possible combinations and forms.
Another tip when searching with a name is to not look for a surname, just given names in a specific county or town along with a birth date range (example 1856-1865). Now that works if the person had unusual given names but this still could be done for more common names such as Mary, Susan or Elizabeth in small counties or towns. Check also the nickname version of a known given name, some are quite different. For Elizabeth there are nicknames of Betsy, Bess, Liz, Eliza, Lizzie, or Beth. Many times the surname has a varied spelling then what you were looking for or the person writing down the information misspelled the surname.
When going over U. S. Federal census records and don’t forget any available state census records, gather any information that is located. This includes birth location of ancestor, birth location of their parents, and if the family immigrated – what year. Compare each census you locate. If you are missing a certain census year, review the one you do have before and after the non-located year. They might be a clue you overlooked. Compare where they were living. If in 1860 they lived in Virginia and by 1880 they lived in Missouri, they might be found in a state or territory in between those two locations – part of the vast populations that moved further west.
If you do know any siblings of your elusive ancestor, research those sisters and brothers for sure. Your direct ancestor might have been living in the same household, next door or down the street from that sibling. You can search city directories that way as well as the census records.
Lastly, in searching a name, if you are still not coming up with your ancestor, search using the wildcard method and placing a ‘*‘ in the search box. If you are looking for William Fitzwilliam Kershaw, it might not be indexed or transcribed that way. In the search try William Fitz* Kershaw or W. Fitzwil* Kersh* – note even a couple names could have the wildcard star in the search.
Your ancestors are waiting, but they are going to make you work to find them.
Photos: Unknowns — 1860s lady, 1870 gentleman and 1904 young lady.
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