DIG: Try Breaking That Brick Wall From The Other Side

So I know I've been away for a little while, but it's actually for a good reason… I've been hard at work expanding my tree! I decided to continue my research and work forwards as well as backwards. The intention being that this will hopefully assist living cousins and relatives that are creating their own family trees. (The accurate kind, you know, with a few sources thrown in for proof.) I figure some of this stuff would otherwise take someone new to genealogy months to uncover.

This all started with the same box of photographs from my grandmother that got this blog moving to begin with. Discovering these photos lead me to search for the lost relatives contained in them. That then led me on a quest to try and track down descendants of those relatives; the kind who might appreciate the photos. The project had been such a success that it got me thinking… maybe I should step back a generation or two and search for other cousins as well!

Since then it's spiraled out of control… (maybe someone needs to stop me?) My tree has grown from about 2500 people to over 6500 people! My initial goal was to create a definitive tree of the descendants of Lawrence Winkler (which I must say I've succeeded in better than any other public tree I've found so far) and it has turned into finding every cousin I can up to 5 generations back on every branch of my tree!

Anyways, to get to the point, one thing that I've found from tracing my ancestors' descendants is that, at times, it can be much easier to trace someone as they grow up rather than trying to back-track through their life (not always the case). This became clear when I started tracking the lives of cousins with more common names. I would search and find there might be 2 or 3 cousins by the same name living in just that county. Once I found the elusive birth date or knew their siblings, this made it much easier to separate them from the "impostors".

So, if you've run into a brick wall tracing a certain family member and have a number of possible suspects, take the most likely suspect and start from the top! Try tracking them from birth to adulthood and find their family. If you know when and where they were born, it makes separating them from the other John Smith’s that much easier. Even if they skip town! Worst case is you will eliminate a suspect and can mentally cross him and his records off the list.

Remember: next time you hit that wall, give this one a shot and maybe you can find a way around.


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