Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Important Genealogical Tip: Try, Try Again!

An important tip in genealogical research is to re-plow ground you've already been over before. And if that's not productive, do it again!


Because it works.

Miriam at Ancestories had a Christmas Day surprise when she finally found some elusive in-laws for whom she had searched for years. In an idle moment, she tried again on-line and there they were.

Coincidentally, I had a very similar experience on Christmas morning as well! For a number of years, I've wondered what became of my grandfather's brother, Otis Preston Manson. I knew he had been born in 1894 based on Milam County school records that I found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. But he doesn't appear on the 1920 census--and seemed to have simply disappeared.

Yesterday, while I--like Miriam--was waiting for the rest of the household, including guests, to stir, I Googled Otis Preston Manson, just on the chance that I'd missed something in the past. And was I surprised when that search turned up a transcription of his death certificate! It was contained in That's a source I rarely use (but you can bet I've spent some time with it now!). Turns out that Preston, as he was known, died in 1912 at the age of 18. The transcription doesn't have the cause of death, so I immediately ordered a copy of the certificate itself from the state of Texas. I used the convenient process found on Texas Online. It should arrive in 10-15 days.

Preston's sister Julia also died in 1912 of tuberculosis. She was just 12 years old. I'm guessing that Preston also died of TB. We'll know shortly.

Going back over area that I've covered before has frequently paid off for me. It did again today in a big way. See the next post. So don't hesitate to review where you've been and look where you've looked before. At some point, something always turns up.


Apple said...

I "found" something yesterday that I'd looked at before on my Wisner line. When I originally saw it I didn't have enough information to see that it might contain a clue to my line. Maybe Santa did come after all. I'm glad you may shortly have an answer about your uncle.

Lee said...

I couldn't agree more with this advice. The problem I have is how to do I keep up with who and what needs to be rechecked. I sometimes make notes of sources/resources that are scheduled to be updated but when your database continues to grow, it gets hard to remember who, what, when...How do you remind yourself to recheck? Do you only do this on those lines where you've hit a brickwall, or do you check all your lines from time to time?

Craig Manson said...

I do it primarily to wreck brickwalls, but of course, it's useful in other situations as well. I must confess that I have no particularly systematic approach to this; I do have a list of brickwalls and other interesting issues that I want to resolve.