I’ve been reading my latest issue of Family Tree magazine and I was very interested to see an article called “Finding Mr. Right” on how to single out YOUR ancestor when there are several people with the same name in the area.  As you know, I have William Stephens coming out of my ears in my family line!  And that name certainly isn’t the only mega-popular name in the Russell County area, so I was interested to see what they had to say.  It was a very informative article and many of the things that they discussed are things that I already do, but one area that I have been VERY poor in doing is to pay attention to the witnesses and neighbors that are mentioned in all of the records that I collect.

They had a great chart (I see Excel!!) on page 45 that I plan to start working on, but in a nutshell, they were taking land deeds for a couple of men with the same name and making note of the date, seller, buyer, neighbors, witnesses and other info gleaned from the document.  By looking at the names of the neighbors and witnesses, you’d probably start to see other familiar names that would help you single out which man is the man you’re look for.  Brilliant!  When I saw the column with the neighbors, I immediately thought about how that list could compare with neighbors in the census records.  Wouldn’t I be seeing these same names in the census pages around my ancestor?  Or how about bondsmen and sureties in other records? And what could I find if I began to research THOSE names?  Perhaps I’d be finding husbands of daughters or sisters that have blank boxes in my group sheets. (You KNOW how I hate blank boxes in my forms!)

So I think I’m going to create another sheet for my Genealogy Planner so I can have this information with me and anytime I’m looking at a new set of records, to think about looking for these names as well.  Maybe I’ll get it ready to be posted by Wednesday, if I can just keep focused and not run off on some tangent when I pull out those deeds!