Saturday, May 28, 2011

Resources and Timelines in the Hunt for Martha/Mary

As I continue to spin my wheels while trying to find my Great Grandmother, Martha/Mary Evingham/Smith (this family line picked up and discarded names at will), my frustration level inches ever higher.  Once I received my Grandmother's (Una/Viola) death certificate listing her mother and father's names I thought for sure that was the break through I needed.  No, the brick wall is now another generation taller.

I added Martha and Joseph to my online tree at Ancestry and waited for the "shaking leaves" to appear.  That's how it happens on the commercials, right?  I am still waiting. Not one, single hint has appeared.  My searches are to no avail, my queries posted on message boards remained unanswered.  Time to go back to the drawing board.

I began listing the resources available to me.  Some I had already contacted using my Grandmother's name, but now that I have Martha/Mary and Joseph I need to revisit.  I also need to revisit the Genweb site for Livingston County, Illinois and, well, I actually need to revisit every source and/or website that I visited looking for Una/Viola.  This is the point where I realize just how important a research log is...I don't have one, so I really have no idea what sites/resources I did visit/review when looking for Una/Viola.  Take note budding genealogists, that is a lesson in what not to do!  Illinois will be my starting point as that is where Una was born, Nebraska and New Jersey will follow.

I started going through the images of documents and photos I have for this family and started asking myself "what is it I really know about them?".  I was struggling with the "big picture" and making sense of the Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey maze.  A timeline came to mind as a tool to help me visualize the information I had.  I was hopeful that getting my information into the proper sequence would shed some light on where and when I needed to focus my research.

The timeline showed me I had documents and details for my grandfather, Joseph, a few details about Una/Viola, very little on Martha/Mary and nothing on great grandfather Joseph.  I will not let this deter me, I feel better having the information written down. My next step will be to add these timeline items to a digital timeline that will show me the current events at the time.  This might also be a good time to bring Google Earth into the picture.  Illinois, Nebraska and New Jersey are not right next door to each other and moving from one to another seems so random to me.  If I'm missing a significan clue, perhaps seeing that migration route will bring clarity to my search.

Now that I have a defined direction I feel much better, no more stumbling around.  Famous last words! :)