Sunday, October 16, 2016

Re-examine What You Have and What You Need

Not sure what to do next in your genealogical research? I know I was recently at the point that I kept reaching dead-ends. I couldn't break through a couple of genealogical brick walls and was making no progress. So what to do now? Rather than continue to hammer away at these impenetrable walls, I looked at my direct ancestors and the documentation I had for them. Surprisingly, there were several basic documents I didn't have. For example, I didn't have the 1920, 1930 and 1940 US Federal Census pages for several of them. Realizing this, I went to Family Search, and browsed through their home town, page by page, in order to find their entries.

To to this, go to Family Search, go to Search and click Records
Go way down towards the bottom of the page and click "Browse all published collections".

On the left hand side of the page, click "United States of America"

 Then in the list of states, click "United States". We're going to a Federal census, not a state census.
 Then click on "Census & Lists" under Collections.
 Now, we can see the list of Federal censuses to select from. Click the census you're interested in.
 Then under the search box, click the link "Browse through x,xxx,xxx images" link. This allows you to look through the pages individually, rather than perform a search of the index.
 To narrow down the images to search, you then select the state to search.
 Then the county.
 Then the township.
 Then, if the township has more than one enumeration district, select the appropriate ED. If you don't know which ED your ancestors lived in, select the first one. You'll browse each one until you find them.

 Now, you are given page one of the census pages of this enumeration district. Browse down the list, looking for people in your database.
Once you find them, click the Download button towards the upper right corner of the page.
Then go to your Downloads folder to find the downloaded page, move it to the appropriate location on your computer and attach it to the appropriate individuals in your database.

So, what did I find?

My great-great-great-grandparents, Gerhardt and Mary Elizabeth Harmeyer in the 1870 census at the bottom of this page:
My grandfather's brother, Alvin Panther, as a servant, in the William McCusty household.
and the family of my great-grandparents, August and Mary Harmeyer Menke in the 1920 census.

Finally, while I didn't find this while searching in the censuses, I decided to see if I could find the immigration records for my Bixenman ancestors. I found the ship's passenger list showing my great-grandparents, Benedict Bixenman and Crescentia Wolfgang on the ship Zurich, arriving in New York City on September 7, 1858. Crescentia's last name is spelled "Wolfegg", which, I'm confident, is a phonetic spelling of the way she pronounced it. Some information has said that her actual surname was Wolfeck.
Go back and take a closer look at the documentation you have for each of your ancestors. Are you missing any? Track them down. You never know. These documents could tell you more about their lives than you knew before and could provide hints to help you break down those brick walls you've been frustrated with.


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