A reader named Trudy sent in the following research question:
How do I solve this brick wall?I am looking for the parents of:
Almina Bailey Reed, B. June 28, 1831 (poss. NY), D. July 18, 1851 Richland County, Wisconsin
Bur. Sextonville Cemetery, Richland County, Wisconsin (Almina was the first person buried in Sextonville)
M. George W. Reed, ABT. 1850 possibly in Wisconsin
George and Almina had a daughter born June 10, 1851, name, Eleanor B. Reed
George was born July 7, 1825 in Port Leyden, New York, he died Dec. 3, 1912 in Richland County, Wisconsin
Wisconsin was in its infancy during this time period. No recorded marriage record. No newspapers for an obituary. The cemetery records do not list her parents.
Trudy, when I hit a brick wall like this in my own research, I always ask myself four questions:
Have I searched ALL the available records?
What do siblings’ records say?
Have I carefully parsed ALL the information in those records?
What patterns emerge in visual charts and timelines? Do I see any holes there?
Before I can help you push past your own stalled research, I first need you to answer questions #1 and #2 for me. Here is how:
FIRST: Make a checklist of records you’ve already searched and/or collected from Almina’s life. If certain records types are not extant for her locality, be sure to note this and why. I use an excel spreadsheet to do this, but you can find simplified version on various genealogy web sites, such as this one, available at the Midwest Genealogy Center web site:
SECOND: Apply this same checklist (above) to Almina’s siblings, carefully charting any clues regarding their parentage in a detailed research log. Below is a sample research log that I’ve made for one ancestor. Note how you can glance at the “Record” section and easily assess which records I’ve already searched, and which I have yet to search. You can make one chart like this for each sibling, or combine them if the records are scarce:
I made this research log in Excel, but you can make them in Word with tables (I prefer Excel because it lets me sort the records by date, name, etc.) If you will compile a detailed research log for this ancestor and send it to me, I’ll be better able to help you identify where else you might be able to search.
Thank you for your question, Trudy–I can’t wait to see what your charts and checklist say, so that we can decide on your next move! 🙂
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