Sunday, April 15, 2012

Be Prepared to be Excited

After you’ve begun finding information on your ancestors, most beginning genealogists want to find out as much as they can. As I mentioned in previous blogs, you should be prepared to be surprised at some of the things you discover, you will also be mystified at some of the things you can’t find and you should expect to find a few family scandals here and there.  But most likely, you can’t prepare yourself for how excited you’ll become once you happen upon some of the more evasive clues to your family line and you start connecting the dots.

I’m still having trouble locating my great-great-grandfather Thomas B. Lawrence for the first 40 years of his life. I assumed he was from Oneida County, NY, because that was where his wife’s family had moved in 1844, and where, I’m guessing, they would have met. So I began looking for other people in Oneida County with the same last name who were close in age. I found a Charles Lawrence who was around the same age, and started tracking Charles on and in the census. There he was in the 1850 Federal Census through the 1880 Census. Since the 1890 Census was destroyed in a fire, I checked the 1900 Census. He was not there. So I assumed he died sometime between the 1880 and 1900 Censuses.

A website called “Old Fulton Postcards” pulls obits and articles from old New York newspapers (  I searched there for both Charles and Thomas, and located Charles’ obit in the Utica Sunday Journal, Dec. 17, 1899. The obit said Charles had lived in Marcy, Oneida County, NY, all his life, and that he was survived by a brother Thomas in Eau Claire, Wis. (my great-great-grandfather).  Thomas was eight years younger than Charles, so if Charles had lived in Marcy all his life, that meant Thomas, too, had been born and grew up in Marcy, NY. Eureka! I felt as though I’d discovered penicillin.

Beginning with the 1860 Census, an older woman name Mary lived with Charles and his family through the 1880 Census. She is listed as Charles mother, which would also make her Thomas’ mother. All three censuses say she was born in Vermont in 1793. I can’t go back much further, because I don’t know what her maiden name was, or what her deceased husband’s first name was. The 1850 Census is the first census that lists more than the head of household, and Charles, his wife Olivia, and two sons and two daughters are the only family members listed that I can find.  

It’s still a wonderful lead I didn’t have before, and even several years later, I’m still excited!

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