Tag Archives: tracing your ancestors

Overcoming Brick Walls: Cluster Research

It can get very frustrating when you’ve collected lots of source documents on your ancestor but you still haven’t found what you wanted.  You’ve done everything right and still can’t find the piece of the puzzle that you want.  What do you do now?

Cluster Research: Researching the siblings, children, parents, cousins, and neighbors of your ancestors.

So begin expanding your net: gather as much information as you can on the siblings, children, parents, cousins, and the neighbors of your ancestors.  This is important because people often lived nearby, went to church together, traveled together, etc.

For example, I was stuck on my great-great grandfather for about a year.  I knew the name of his father, but I had no information at all about his mother.  I checked my great-great grandfather’s death certificate and marriage certificate with no luck.  I tried to find his mother in the census, but I wasn’t having any luck.

Then I found his father’s obituary and all the pieces fell into place.  The obituary gave me a name and a death year for this woman.  She died not long after the family immigrated to this country, which explains why I couldn’t find her in the census.  She also died while they were en route to Montana, which explains why I couldn’t find any death record for a woman with her married name.

All of these clues that did not come from the ancestor that I was researching, but from his father, led me to find the pieces to the puzzle that I was lacking.

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