I’d like to share a recent breakthrough—one that proves that genealogy puzzles are often solved through less-than-direct methods.
I found an ancestor, Aaron Hendrickson, on an 1860 Daviess County, Ind., census. The discovery was puzzling, because most of the family was in another Indiana county—not even a neighboring one. So, I went exploring on the Daviess County pages at the USGenWeb Project. There, I found a list of burials, and among them were several people named Hendrixson. It was a good clue more family might be in that county, but, when I went backwards to the 1850 census in Daviess, I ran out of luck.
However, in going through the 1850 Daviess census, I found several members of the Strange family. Since the Stranges and Hendricksons often migrated together, I thought it odd I couldn’t find Hendricksons in Daviess County in 1850. Nor Hendrixson, Hendrixon, Hindrixson, Hendricks or other variations.
Finally, I tracked down an 1850 census index and went through all the H names. Did I find my family? Yes. Was the name spelled with one of the many Hendrickson variations? No. The whole family was there, but the enumerator had listed their name as Henderson. Would I have persisted in going through all the H names in the census if I hadn’t seen the Strange family there? Maybe not.
Lesson learned: If you have access to a census index, and can’t find your family in the county you think they’re in, start looking in the county where you find allied family names.
I’d love to hear how you’ve solved a research problem. Write and tell me your story-let’s share our how-to knowledge with other readers. Other research tips:
• Brick-Wall Research
• US Census Guide
• Developing Research Skills
• Genealogy How-To Articles
• Free BMD (births, marriages, deaths in England and Wales)
• Illinois Statewide Marriage Index 1763-1900
• Western States Historical Marriage Record Index
• 4 USGenWeb Marriage Project
• Marriage Record Index at Ray Brown’s Place (links to several New England marriage indexes)
• Kentucky Vital Records Index
• A Marriage Database for Northern England
• Indiana Marriage Database (through 1850)
• Putnam County, Tennessee Marriage Database
• Baker County, Oregon Marriages 1862-1980
Nancy Hendrickson is a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine. She also is a family historian, freelance writer and the author of two astronomy books. Her Web site is at www.ancestornews.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org