It happens even to the best of us. We start the hunt for our ancestors and eventually we open that door that brings us to a brick wall. We try and try to find that ancestor even hunt an other and still there is that wall. So how do we break through that wall?? Can we break through the wall??
Here are some tips on how you can help yourself break through the walls you come to:
- Take a brief brake. Taking a break will bring you a clear visual on the things you are reviewing. It can also clear your thoughts to help you focus better on the name(s) you are searching for. Sometimes taking a break from that individual to revisit them later will help things to clear up and you may find hidden hits that you overlooked before.
- Revisit and review old research. Why? When we revisit all of our old resources on that individual we may find old yet new discoveries. Believe it or not, there are hidden clues and hints in just about every piece of resource we review. Many times we over look them. So when we revisit old sources with a fresh look those hidden clues or hints begin to stand out a little more. Along with hidden hints we may discover incorrect information that needs to be corrected and updated. Often times in the hunt we may unknowingly input the wrong information from sleepy eyes or we may input the wrong information from a hint that does not belong to that individual.
- Search siblings. Do you have names of one or more siblings and or half-siblings? Remember every will and obituary is wrote different. Most hold clues to the past and present. Dates, locations, spouses and even names of other relatives. Siblings and even half siblings will share one parent you are bound to find a clue in one of these resources. In this search you may get lucking and find birth, death records and death certificates or other medical documents. Again all valuable information for ancestry. Not only will you have names, dates and locations but you will learn more about medical history.
- Take a break from the line you are working on and start working an other line. Again taking in to consideration of the first two tips. A fresh eye and a break usually help in locating hidden pieces of information. Bring in a family member or friend someone who can help brainstorm with you over the individual you are working on.
- Search newspapers. If you have never seen the older newspapers let me just tell you they are fun to read. Someone's life story is printed every day. The gossip that is printed each day is like reading a daily journal. Again pay attention to dates, names, locations, events that unfolded.
- What about family members? Is there family willing to talk and share stories with you? The great thing about talking with family members is that every member who was an eye witness to that event has their own version of an account they witnessed. Others share the versions that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Each version may have some truth to it and some not so true. If you record the account on audio you can revisit what is said and try to find the hidden clues in each story. Remember every one of us past and present holds a hidden piece to the puzzles in our family lineage.
- Make a timeline for that individual. Sometimes making a timeline of events that happened for that individual can help things to be more clear. You may find clues to the years your missing or to events that happened that have little information attached to them.
- IF you hold a membership to a site and that is where you are hunting your resources, step away and look at alternate sites. The great thing about technology today is information is at our fingertips. I remember going to the library and having to pull the index cards out and research information. I know that gives my age right? Seriously though. You do not have to have a paid membership to find information you seek. You would be surprised how many states are moving their archives over to digital archives. Most states will give you free access to many records by counties and across the state. Some do require a membership fee but most do not. Keep in mind local libraries may be of help and even libraries in other states. If you ask kindly they may help you with no fee attached or a small fee attached. Google is an other great resource. Learn about counties of the state you are researching family. Research the history of the surname for that area. You really would be surprised what you can find. Keep in mind it will entail a LOT of reading. But if you are wanting to learn about your family history then the reading will be worth your wile.
- Lastly, you can do a DNA test. I say this last because I don't want you to get your hopes up to high. Keep in mind that the DNA test is not always going to bring the answers you hunt. It may not even help fill in your lineage or tree. The truth is while DNA is great to help fill in some of the blanks but it is not going to fill in a majority of them. For many it is hard to read the tests and that is where I recommend you have someone who is trained or understands dna to help you read your results. Many look to DNA to solve the paper trail blocks. WRONG! That is not going to help you solve your blocks. It may help you some but unblock you doubtful. DO NOT look for DNA test to show you your Native American heritage. NOT gonna happen for most! Unless you have a full blooded within 3-4 generations you likely not going to show any % of the native gene. It would have to be reintroduced to the bloodline. Genes after awhile will work their way out of the line until they are reintroduced by a full blooded kin. At most you may show 1% under African American or other ethnicity. That does not guarantee your ethnicity. The test in general is merely an estimate by what they gather to make your results. Most who specialize in DNA will tell you to stick with the paper trail as it will be more accurate then a dna test. I tend to agree with them. However, keep in mind. Even a paper trail can have a mistake.
With that being said, I do hope some of the tips noted above will help you break through the brick wall in front of you. If all else fails just take a break period from ancestry. When you come back you will be totally refreshed and ready to begin more hunting.
Good luck to you and as always happy hunting!