Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Broad Search

We are studying Tom Jones's course on Inferential Genealogy at Second Life, which is available at . I am presenting an example here of how a broad search helped me to solve a genealogy problem.
My focused goals were to find the parents of my ancestor Nancy Melvin and where in Maryland she was born. She married Elijah Hicks 28 Feb 1823 in Bracken County, KY. I checked online family trees, but could not find one listing her parents.
Step 1. Searched 1820 US Census Kentucky for possible fathers. I found only one possible father in Bracken County, KY. His name was John, and a female in her age range was listed in his household. I also searched Clermont County, Ohio where Nancy lived after her marriage. A William Melvin lived there in 1820, but didn't have daughters in her age range.
Step 2. I ordered a copy of the marriage record for Elijah Hicks and Nancy Melvin from the Bracken County genealogy Society. I received a copy of their marriage bond which John Melvin signed. At this point I felt like it was more likely than not that John Melvin was Nancy's father.

Signatures from 1823 Marriage Bond of Elijah Hicks and Nancy Melvin

Step 3. Searched 1850 Bracken County, KY Census. Found a John Melvin, but he said he was born in Pennsylvania same as his wife. I figured this might be wrong, and just an echoing of the birthplace for his wife.
John Melvin 1850 Census for Bracken County, KY with third wife

Step 4. According to all available census records Nancy was born in Maryland (all Melvins listed in Census records for Clermont County, OH and Bracken County, Ky stated they were born in Maryland). So I searched the 1810 Census for all of Maryland. I found 3 possible fathers in Maryland. One in Worcester, where many Melvin families lived. There was a John Melvin with a female in her age range in Worcester County. A William Melvin also lived in the area.
Step 5. Looked at online marriage records for Worcester, Maryland. Found a marriage for John Melvin and Mary Redden.. They married 24 Nov 1800. Nancy Melvin's eldest daughter was named Mary. A William Melvin married around the same time.
Step 6. I did a survey of all available records for Worcester, Maryland online. Nothing linking the Worcester County Maryland Melvins to Bracken County, KY.
Step 7. Went back to Bracken County 1850 Census looked for neighbors from Maryland. Found a Purnell Redden. Searched online family trees for him, where I found one giving his birth place as Worcester County, Maryland. His father Shadrack was said to be the brother of the Mary Redden, who married John Melvin. At this point felt like I was on to something :)!
Purnell Redden 1850 Census he appears on the page previous to John Melivn (his wife was a Norris and John Melvin's third wife was related to the Norris family)

Step 8. Went back to Worcester Records online and found Shadrack Redden listed in these records which confirmed he came from there. An online probate transcription did name a Shadrack and Mary Redden as brother and sister.
Step 9. Ordered all avaibable land and court microfilms for Bracken County, Ky from the LDS Family History Library. Was not able to make a definite connection between John Melvin and the Redden family.
Step 10.  Decided to research William Melvin of neighboring Clermont, Ohio. Nancy Melvin lived in Clermont after her marriage. She used many of the same names as the William Melvin family, such as Stephen, for her children. The name Stephen was also used by the Melvin family in Worcestor, Maryland. My research in Clermont Ohio records produced nothing either.
Step 11. I posted queries at Forums for Worcester, Bracken, and Clermont explaining how I was trying to link these families and what I had found.

My query paid off big time :)! Someone contacted me by email and told me that there was a biography published in an Indiana County history, which stated that William Melvin's daughter was born in Snow Hill, Maryland, which is the town in Worcester County where the Melvin Family I have been researching lived.

Centennial history of Grant County, Indiana, 1812 to 1912

 I did not have the name of this daughter because she left the Clermont area. I would never think to check a county history in Indiana :). So I now have a fairly good circumstanial case, and feel pretty confident Nancy Melvin was the daughter of John Melvin and Mary Redden of Snowhill, Worcester, Maryland. I am continuing to research this family for further confirmation.


Ginger Smith said...

This is a great example and thanks for sharing. I did something like this as well. It's important, and not that difficult to do sometimes, to track ancestors as they move across state lines and the neighbors that lived around them as well. Thank you.

Annette said...

Thanks very much Ginger for the nice comment :)!

Diana Biddle said...

Great example Annette, I also noticed the way you scanned your family tree and included it as a page on your blog - neat idea! Also, interested in your Jackson County, Indiana ancestors, many Brownings moved into Brown County. Down by Story, Indiana is a place called Browning Mountain.

Annette said...

Thanks so much Diana! I had never heard of Browning Mountain. I will have to look into whether Browning mountain has anything to do with my family :).

MHD said...

Hi, Annette!
Oh, another coincidence? I am a descendant of Elizabeth HICKS who married Amos RICHARDSON in Estill Co., KY, 4 Oct 1810. I believe her father may have been a William, but I have not proven it.
I hope all is well with you & I hope to see you at the FHC soon!