The Value of Families Within Pedigrees

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By Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.

Individual ancestors aren’t alone. Although researchers feel primarily responsible for their individual lineages, an ancestor without his brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles along with child-parent relationships is feeble, and almost useless. While many genealogical researchers emphasize historical information for filling in details, there is no bigger detail that can be left out than the closest relatives that any person has.

The personal motto of this author is that there are no such things as brick walls; only sources that have not yet come to light or that the researcher is ignorant about. One easily-accessible source that contains such details is the United States census. While this source mainly helps with more-recent relatives (example: 1790-present for American censuses), it is a great source for keeping track of family members over time.

Although my grandfather does not come up on the 1930 census, his brother and half brother do along with his parents. In other census cases, there were searches for a sibling’s husband or wife that came up with information that otherwise would have been impossible to find had I been searching only for the direct line. One case would be the 1870 census where an ancestor, Salemma Mosher, became Solomon Mosher, even though Solomon is listed as a 16-year old female!

Checking through other relatives confirmed her identity, and helped another researcher and me piece together a family connection otherwise unknown. Try searching for siblings, aunts, and uncles. My Ethel Seely would be lost except for her staying with her cousins during the 1900 census enumeration. You may be amazed by who is found when searching for the whole family, and not solely for direct-line lineages.

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