My friend, Irma, sent me a posting from a message board about a member of my Powell ancestors. (Grandma Smith to Bennett to Rumbo to Holt to Powell) Other than the Bennett branch, this entire line moves through female ancestors, so I haven’t done as much research since I have a much harder time researching females. Because this is my first research project since August, I thought it would be a good place to get back into research mode.
The dilemma is always deciding what information I can trust to get moving in the right direction. I’d love to know if anyone has a great “rule” for this! My method is this: I took the information from the message (which was a abstract of an estate file) and put it into a group sheet. Since this particular information is coming from estate papers, I feel pretty confident in the accuracy, so I entered the information in black.
Then I go to Ancestry and look for a family tree that matches the information I have. I choose the tree with the most sources attached and I add the dates to my group sheet. Usually, the sources that are attached to the tree in Ancestry are census files, but I feel better knowing that someone has put time into their research as opposed to someone who just enters or copies names with no sources at all. If an attached source proves a date, then I enter the date in black, but all information that I find that is not sourced goes into the group sheet in blue. I add a link to the tree in the notes section of my group sheet with a notation that all information in blue was found in that tree. If I find another well sourced tree that has conflicting information, I also add it to the group sheet, but I use a green font. A link to that tree is also added in the notes section.
Using the information on my group sheet, I begin a “working tree” in Ancestry so that I can search for information and attach files, but I don’t enter anything into my “real” tree until I am much more confident. After I’ve entered that information, I consider my “mission” to be to prove or disprove everything on the group sheet. I look for online sources first. As soon as I find confirmation of a fact, I change the color in my group sheet to black and add an endnote. After I’ve looked through my online subscriptions, I go to the library and dig into the books and microfilm. Sometimes, the information that I find will also yield unexpected results for another branch of my tree. That has been the case here.
In my family files, I had determined that Jehu Rumbo was married to Susan Holt. I had guessed that Susan’s parents were Powell Holt and Margaret Powell, but I decided to follow the Rumbo line instead of the Holt line. The message that Irma sent to me confirmed Susan’s parents. (Now if I can just find the document that was abstracted!) The message gave the names for two generations of Powells and I have been able to determine that 4 Powell siblings married 4 Holt siblings! So as I look through various databases, I’m able to look for both surnames at the same time.
I began this process with 1 group sheet, but now am able to work on 4 group sheets – filling in missing information and confirming “best guesses” that I’ve had up to now.
So the process continues! I have the rest of this week to do as much research as my little heart desires – then it’s back to school. Maybe I’ll have some Snow Days coming my way to keep going with this research!