Remember how this is the Baca/Douglas Genealogy and Family History Blog? Well, Douglas is my wife's maiden name. Which means that I should, every once in a while, be doing research on my wife's family. Well, I finally got down to it recently: I started looking up my stepson's ancestry.
(The story that follows does not include last names or my stepson's full name in order to protect the identities of living people.)
It all started yesterday when I was showing my wife the features of the new Family Tree Maker 2009 that she installed for me. She was going through the list of names on the program, when she noticed that I put the "wrong" birthplace for her son. I put the Illinois township that he was born in, rather than the actual city. It would be like putting "Paradise Hills" instead of "Albuquerque"as the city (Paradise Hills is a neighborhood in ABQ.) I told her that I got the information off of his birth certificate. She didn't believe me. So we checked it out - and lo and behold, I was right. Well, I was right in that it mentioned the township instead of the actual city. Well, what do I know? I don't know Illinois geography and we certainly don't have townships in New Mexico!
Anyhow, we checked a few more sources in order to prove her right, and we browsed through Nancy's wedding book. In the book was my stepson's family tree. It included the name of his grandparents, and the name of his great-grandfather's name: Archibald Frederick P****. Nancy gave me some additional information, for instance that his grandfather Robert was born in 1927, that his great-grandfather Archibald lived in Vermilion County, Illinois and that there was an "uncle" Isham. I began my search (today!).
I searched HeritageQuest Online first. I can access census records from from home through the Rio Rancho Public Library system (Albuquerque Public Library cards work on Rio Rancho's server.) The problem is that HeritageQuest has a ... um ... crappy search engine. Often I can't find what I'm looking for, and 1930's census records are mostly not indexed. Therefore, I found a lot of names that are similiar, but obviously were not the correct ones.
In desperation, I posted information to three different genealogy forums. Within a few hours, I received a wealth of information. First, I received a message from Dick at GenForum. It was a 1930's census record that seems to be the correct family. It lists a widow Ethel (with her maiden name!) as well as her children. Archie, 28, (or more likely, 23) is listed as married - but, it does not list his wife's name (so I'm still looking for that!) It also has his brother as being Isham, 17; so, therefore, Isham may be the great-uncle of my stepson's father, not his uncle.
Later, from "granny" at the Ancestry forum, I received a possible 1992 obituary abstract for Archibald. I would like to read the actual obituary, but this is a start.
And just now, as I was writing this post, I received another message from Larry at CousinConnect. He had a whole slew of census records that look very promising. I think I might have found another generation, as well as the name of Archibald's father (but still no name for Archibald's wife.) This message also included a transcript of the 1930's census record that I mentioned before. It shows Archie's age as 23 on that record. Looking back at the actual record, it does appear to be "23". This also closely matches the obituary abstract I talked about which shows "Archie" as being born in 1906.
The moral of this story: use genealogy forums. When I first used these forums 10 years ago, it took weeks to get a response - if I got one at all. Now, with everyone connected, it took me just hours. Wow! I wasn't expecting that!