Sunday, April 7, 2019

Is it a Brick Wall or Should I Just Be Patient?

When I think of a physical brick wall I imagine a height that prevents me from seeing what's on the other side from where I stand.  I imagine that if I walk some distance, I'll come to the end of the wall and be able to walk around to the other side.  I always imagine a brick wall as a temporary hold up, an imposition, an obstacle to overcome.

In my mind, a brick wall is not a dead end, either in real life or in genealogy.  In real life, if I really want to see what's on the other side, I won't give up.  In family history, if I really want to find the event, the record, the ancestor and come to the proverbial brick wall, I don't give up, either.  I research every possible way I can think of and when I turn up nothing helpful, I give research a break and wait.  New ideas come, new places to search, new records collections become available online....   I think brick walls in family history are often (though not always) due to the lack of availablity of records and that eventually I'll find what I seek.

That being said, I seem to be walking along a brick wall hoping to get to the other side regarding several ancestors.

Henry Carl Meinzen is the ancestor I've been searching for the longest.  Born in Germany in 1837, immigrated to the U.S. in 1866, I have yet to determine his birth location, his hometown, and his parents' names.

John Froman is a great-great-grandfather whose parents I have yet to find.  He died intestate in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, in 1871, leaving behind a pregnant wife and six children under the age of 12.  I'm unable to find a death record (other than court documents for his intestate file), a place of burial, or information about his specific place of birth. 

William Doyle, a great-great-great-grandfather, died in Northumberland, England in 1838.  I've found only church records of his death, burial, and marriage; no birth or christening record, no grave marker, nothing else.

Abel Armitage is another great-great-grandfather for whom I can find no death record (though I have found some records for his early years in Yorkshire, England).  He just disappears, last known alive in Jefferson County, Ohio, in 1881, then gone.  

I was going to write a list of ways we may arrive at a brick wall but the round-up of posts below cover most of my ideas and/or offer some great ideas for breaking down, going through, around, or over a brick wall.

May the brick walls in your family history research crumble!

This post was written for Amy Johnson Crow's 2019 version of 52 Ancestors.  The post topic for the week was "Brick Wall."


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  1. Great links! Thanks for helping us out.

    1. Thanks, Wendy. One never knows what might be the one suggestion that helps!

  2. I agree we have to be patient. There are so many records to find, though not all online. Sometimes we have to wait to be able to go to them.

    1. Exactly right, Laura. And we never know what may turn up if we continue to search, even if only occasionally.

  3. I think we all have long lists of Brick Walls. Thanks for sharing links to help us get over those walls.

    1. You're welcome, Colleen. I hope they help.


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