poetry and prose about place

snags in the search for my ancestors

with 4 comments

I have spent a lot of the weekend searching the genealogy records for information on the whereabouts of my great-grandfather before 1887 when he married my great-grandmother.  It seems he had a common name and a simple search turns up a bewildering array of possibilities.  Also, some of the facts do not seem to aid in the search.  For example, I know he was born in Bethany, Missouri, but the only person in the census record with his name is about 10 years too young.


To find my great-grandfather, I have looked at endless family trees, searched through long lists of possible relatives on and looked at every person who lived in southern Wyoming and vicinity in 1880!  I have come to know, quite well, at least three families associated with a person of the same name and age as my great-grandfather only to discover a fact that makes a connection with my family impossible.


My post for today is only to appeal to you to think of your future family when you keep the records of your own life.  Someday, my descendants will look for me (I hope they will be interested) and they will be frustrated by three mistakes I have made in record-keeping:


1. they will be disappointed to learn I have not been very consistent about my name. First, in my work, I used my maiden name as well as my married name. Second, I have always been called by my second given name but government documents refer to me by my first name.  Only last week, I was almost turned away for an appointment at the hospital because I forgot they might list me by my first name.


2. they will be dismayed to see that, although I have nice, legible handwriting, I have not always been careful about filling out forms.  In fact, I know I have been very sloppy on several occasions.


3. they will cry when they find all the photos I have taken over the years.  I have only identified people and dates in a small percentage of our home photos.  When I look over our photos, I try to add information, but often I only  scribble the first names of the people in the photos and I frequently have to guess at the date a photo was taken.


When I look at my own assemblage of family information, I encounter these problems quite often.  For example, who were the young women whose photos I have in my family history collection?  My Mom thought perhaps they were friends of her grandmother at nursing school in Boston.  I treasure their photos, but I will never know who they were.


And I may never find, with any certainty, the whereabouts of my great-grandfather in 1860, 1870 and 1880.










Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 5, 2014 at 7:38 am

4 Responses

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  1. Feeling your frustration, Jane… I also have boxes of unidentified photos from various relatives and have been trying harder to identify quickly any new photos, even it I think it’s so obvious who is in the picture!


    Barbara Rodgers

    May 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    • Hi. It’s hard to realise we won’t always be here to identify the people we know so well. Jane


      jane tims

      May 7, 2014 at 11:43 pm

  2. Great tips, Jane, and wonderful old photos. I used to be good at labeling photos, but now I rarely print them out anymore. I really should print and label them. We have a box of photos inherited from various family members, most of them with people we are unable to identify, although most do have the year hastily scribbled on the back.



    May 5, 2014 at 8:27 am

    • Hi. I also wish I had paid more attention when my Mom and Dad told me things about their families. Oh, if I could talk to them now for just a minute, the questions I could ask!! Jane


      jane tims

      May 5, 2014 at 9:15 pm

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