I’ve been working on my Stephens line for several months.  The branches of this tree extend far and wide and criss-cross all over the place!  This past week, I’ve been cleaning out my filing cabinet and various folders and notes and trying to make sense of things that I wrote when I was a new genealogist.  I already have quite a stack of group sheets for the various Stephens families, but there are gaps and lots of unsourced information from other researchers.

I love making group sheets by reading vital records books because so often, I find children that do not show up in census records because they were born and died between censuses.  Sometimes, I find spellings or nicknames that I hadn’t considered before and I can add that information to my notes.  The Family Search Pilot makes this “browsing” easier because the layout of the page allows me to read several names at once.  Husband, wife (often with maiden name) and child are much easier to catch on this site than they are while skimming microfilms of old record books.  It’s not unusual for me to notice a wife’s name on a line that I had missed when reading the list of husbands.

I decided to expand my group sheet collection because of some of the guesses I was writing about in my notes from years ago.  Could I make a connection now that I couldn’t make then?

I spent some time this morning on http://www.pilot.familysearch.org following up on a question I had written in my notes years ago.  Long ago, I ordered a pension file for Andrew Stephens and it was not the Andrew that I had expected.  There was information in the file about a 2nd marriage that ended up being with a woman in another line of mine (another criss-cross in my branches!), so I’m trying to determine the parents of this Andrew.  I had written a hypothesis in my notes, but was never able to prove it.

My hypothesis was that this Andrew Stephens was from Pulaski County.  Unfortunately, I didn’t write down my reasoning for this guess, but my sketchy memory is that I had tried to find a family in the Russell County area that had a son named Andrew around the correct age.  I’ve been focusing my search on Russell County and Adair County, so I decided to see if I could make a group sheet for this family based on information from familysearch.  Everything in the group sheet would be sourced, so I’d be confident with what I have and perhaps be able to have a better answer to my original question.  Then I found the census records for this family to fill in some other blanks.

My next step will be to get out the pension file that brought out all my original questions to see if I can rule out my hypothesis based on this information.  If I can’t rule it out with this easy to find information, then I’ll create a research plan and start ordering films from the FHL to see if I can get a breakthrough that way.

If you happen to be related to Andrew Stephens who married Susan “Preshy” Smiley, I’d love to compare notes!

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