Saturday, August 23, 2014

Unique Names and Cousin Teams

All genealogists hope to find that they had ancestors with unique names. team


So we can trace them.  It's a lot easier to find Americus Vespucius Tirrill than it is to find William Bennett or Elizabeth Smith. 

I hoped that the name Isaac LeFever would be prominently displayed on census, marriage, land and other records but alas, the 'correct' Isaac only appears once along with my cousin Agnes Bennett on a census record.  Forty hours of focus haven't found a further recorded trace of ether of them.  Other folks have speculated about their whereabouts, death years and family, but unfortunately, all they have done is spin a tale without any proof based on reality.

It isn't unusual to not find records about an ancestor.  We all have holes in our ancestral trees for that reason.  In the case of Isaac, he and Agnes have remained elusive over a period of thirty years of searches by several of us cousins working together.  As a group, our team has proven to be a fairly formidable puzzling solving unit, but alas, we have sent far too many "NJ" (no joy) emails to each other in the quest for Isaac and Agnes.

It looks like another trip to local libraries and records in Ohio will be required in this case.  Between the members of our team, we have subscriptions to all of the major and most of the minor records sites online as well as easy access to all of the major family history research libraries in the U.S., yet all of these resources have only provided 'goose eggs' to date.

We have over 500 years of research experience between us.  There aren't many if any research tricks and tools that we haven't employed.  We know that the couple existed.  The were clearly recorded in the 1880 census.  Were they listed by their little known names during the conversation with the census enumerator?   Possibly.  We've looked at the records of every LeFever in a 200  mile radius of their home location in the census without finding them again.  

Folks moved with some frequency in that day when new land became available to homestead.  We've surfed the waves of westward expansion.  We've retraced their probable routes back to the birth states they reported in the census.  We exhausted the records about their known family records hoping to find a trace of them.   "NJ" notes have been mailed in every case.

Eventually one of us will find them after looking at the problem through a different window.  It will happen.  The team is like a pack of junk yard dogs looking for their favorite bone.  Once the hunt began, it is impossible to call it off.  We've tasted 'blood' too many times in impossible quests in the past to give up on the trail of our prey when we've had such a strong scent to mark the trail.

Cousin teams are wonderful.  We bring a wealth of unique perspectives, skills and resources to the table.  Well functioning cousin teams magnify these resources.   In our team, the sum of our research acumen and success is not directly proportional to the linear values of our respective skills and resources but are rather multiplied far exceeding Orwell's 2 + 2 = 5 dogma into real synergetic magic.

We laugh at times wishing that we enjoyed more common ancestral lines.  Not only does the team enjoy a huge success rate but we have a lot of fun working together.  Imagine your birthday present being the focused research of a seasoned team all working to crack 'your' genealogy brick wall.   Sometimes we fail but typically the walls fall into a pile of pulverized dust.   Once the keystone plug is removed, the structure falls en masse.

The team finds itself with a brick wall today in the case of Isaac and Agnes, but the wall will fall eventually just as soon as we find that single weak brick  or fact that has held it intact thus far.  Once it is removed, the story of their lives will flow forth for the enjoyment of all of our family.

If you aren't already a member of a cousin research team, find one or create one.  The communication and data sharing tools that grant almost instant feelings of success are are readily available.  Try it Mikey.  You'll love it!