There are so many aspects to solving dead-ends in your genealogy search. Often I wonder if I am searching for a piece of information that has never been documented or any documents with the information no longer exist, however, this doesn’t stop me from waking up in the middle of the night, thinking, “Oh, maybe I should check…?”
This page will be completely dedicated to helping researchers think of new ways of searching to help solve that one mystery or find that elusive ancestors name.
Method 1: Writing Narrative. This little tidbit I discovered accidentally while trying to start writing some simple narratives about my ancestors. The first thing I learned was this was no small feat, since writing narratives is difficult and time-consuming. However, I was amazed that how every time I wrote out those facts in sentence form, the missing information became glaring and obvious, leading me straight to the information I was missing.
Method 2: Connect with cousins. One particular mystery, that had plagued me for years, involved my great-grandfather Charles Lee from Switzerland Co., Indiana. I had heard that he disappeared after his third child was born. I imagined him walking into to the woods and never being seen again. However, on a whim, I decided to throw the question out there to some of my distant Lee cousins who were also on Facebook. Low and behold, some people came back with a few stories, stories that turned out to be far different from him going to work one day and never coming back home. (The real story was that he had told his wife he was leaving her and he up and moved to Colorado. She took her 3 children the youngest just a baby and followed him to Colorado, hoping to get him back. She apparently lived in a soddy house for many months before admitting defeat and going back home. She later married Charles cousin, John.)
Method 3: Search horizontally. This has helped me solve mysteries over and over again. The idea is to research known relatives and associations. Investigate your ancestor’s siblings and their spouses and children. I can’t tell you how many times the research gave a clue on a marriage document or in a census record that I wouldn’t have considered looking twice at.