Once details begin to connect

It’s easy to overlook details that don’t fit the picture as you see it, but don’t rule out their importance. Over time, you may find they point you in a whole new direction and open some unexpected vistas. With Orphan George, for instance, I’d been sent some Chester County tax records as well as two […]

When a family fits into a migration stream

A knowledge of migration patterns fitting you genealogical subjects can be quite helpful in tracing their generations. In my Quaker circles, for instance, it was not uncommon to find brothers in one family marrying sisters in another – and then to see households of cousins venturing off to a new state, and Quaker community, together. […]

With a wrought-iron fence

We can assume is that the snapshots were taken on the same day, thanks to the fence and leafless tree – details that are more apparent in the wider, uncropped versions of the snapshots. Even enlarged and darkened, the images are more suggestive than definitive.

Naming patterns as clues to parentage

Becoming aware of the naming patterns used in particular cultures or regions can be a huge help in focusing your search for the parents in the previous generation. For instance, in some traditions, the first son was customarily named after his paternal grandfather, as happens in my Ehrstine generations of Peter/John/Peter/John. Sometimes it also means […]

Take a magnifying glass to handwriting

You don’t have to be a handwriting expert to draw insights on family members. A single mailed letter from each of my Hodson great-grandparents offers me enough information to challenge the conventional family view of their personalities. (The letters and my analysis are posted elsewhere on this site.) How literate were they? What were their […]