For example, I have only two records for my potential ancestor, Werner Frommann. They are a ship's manifest and an 1860 census record. (I've already searched for him in the 1870 U.S. Census but did not find him.)
From the manifest I learned
- his country of origin (Hessen)
- from where he sailed and ship name (Bremen, "Julius")
- his age (54)
- his previous occupation (weaver)
- with whom he travelled and their ages (Maria, 21; Johannes, 16; Anna, 12; Elisabeth, 7; Heinrich, 5; Caspar, 4; and Christianne, 23)
- his port of arrival (Baltimore)
- his arrival date in the U.S. (August 4, 1856)
- his intended destination (Greenville)
From the 1860 census record I learned
- where he was living (Hickory Township, Mercer County, Penna)
- his age (58)
- his occupation (miner)
- his country of origin (Germany)
- with whom he was living and their ages (John, 20; Henry, 10; Casper, 7)
- who his neighbors were (but have not yet compiled a list)
Imagining the possible next steps an ancestor may have taken will give me ideas about other possible sources of evidence. I may not find him in any of the places I search but my search will have been deeper, broader, and more extensive.
Below are possibilities about what happened to Werner Frommann and search ideas.
He may have died. Search
-> probate records in the county and state where he last lived
-> probate records in neighboring counties
-> orphan's court records because he may have died without a will
-> local newspapers for accounts of his death
-> local newspapers for announcements regarding his estate
-> for a gravestone at Find-A-Grave or Billion Graves
-> for his name in cemetery indexes
He may have returned to Germany.
-> Are there emigration records for the U.S. in the 1860s?
He may have moved from the county and/or state.
-> perform a broad search in any of the major search engines
He may have changed his name or the spelling may have altered because of pronunciation.
-> search with broader name variations
This is my initial list of possibilities for this ancestor. I will choose what I think is the most likely possibility and begin those searches. If he's not found after those, I'll continue through the list.
Do you do this when searching for an ancestor, too? What other places and possibilities do you consider for a ancestor whose trail disappeared? What possibilities have I missed for Werner?
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