Friday, November 5, 2010

Tony Burroughs

So I haven't posted any news in awhile for two reasons. First, there hasn't been alot of new online data (although there are a couple of unique pieces of online data that I have been meaning to share!). Second, I have been absorbed by my family history research lately. My renewed interest was inspired by an African American genealogy program I recently attended sponsered by the Camden Archives .

Tony Burroughs, author of Black Roots, was the speaker. While all of his program was interesting one thing he said about slave record research really stayed with me. His point was that researchers cannot begin slave research without first going through reconstruction records. His point was that there has to be some order to our research. Jumping from a twentieth century death certificate to slave records is skipping a whole era of records that might provide valuable to slave record research.

Of course I nodded my head and said to myself that I am always telling my african american genealogists that they need to look at records like the Freedmen's Bureau records for clues and now I could throw around Tony's name to back-up my superior research advice. While I was busy patting myself on the back the thought popped into my head that Tony wasn't just talking about african american research. The idea of looking at records in some kind of time order could apply to any type of genealogy research.

Then it hit me like a true bolt of lightening, I was skipping records in my own family research. There is a brick wall on my paternal side that I keep crying about. My great grandmother immigrated from Ireland as a very young child in 1895 with an older sister and lived with a foster family, according to family stories. No one, not even the great grandmother, was sure what her family name was but they passed around a vague recollection that it was Fayee, Faye, Fayhee, etc. Frankly the possibilities are endless. I have spent fruitless hours looking through immigration records but I never tried to look for vital statistics because her early years were so muddled. I took a step back and re-studied what I did know through the 1920 and 1930 census. I looked carefully at all the questions on each census and I made a timeline.

Frankly the results were astounding. So much information was there that I missed. It cleared up my grandmothers parentage and took me in a totally different direction. I haven't answered all my questions but I have renewed hope that if I can find a marriage record, or locate her in the 1910 census I will have some questions answered.

Now I have a research plan and renewed hope for this line. It has meant lots of phone calls to county courthouses and a road trip will be necessary. I am staying completely away from immigration records until I have exhausted searching the possible records she created between 1900-1920. I am having so much fun with the new direction my research taking.

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