I’ll let you in on a secret – teachers are almost always more excited to have a snow day than their students are! I already have everything prepared for my classes for the day, so when I get the cancellation notification, I know that I have an unexpected day to research! So how should I spend that time?
I woke up early and started watching the school announcements on tv and I thought we might have a 2 hour delay. I decided that if I only had 2 hours, I was going to do random Ancestry research. I pick a collateral line (usually a brother) because I know that virtually any information I find will be new in my tree. I hit the “search records” button and start attaching records. Almost every time I do this, I end up with unexpected information that helps me in my direct line, and I did find some clues to follow up on. I had been doing that for close to an hour when I found out there wouldn’t be a delay, but a cancellation. Now that changes the picture! If I have a full day, I don’t want to be doing “random” research, I want to be more focused!
I know we didn’t cancel because of the weather we got last night; it was only about an inch of snow. But we have a blizzard warning that starts this afternoon and I think that’s why we cancelled. So I convinced my husband that it would be safe to run to the library (he drove me, just to be safe – what a great guy!) to take a quick look at some microfilm. I knew that John M. Smith was listed in the Russell County tax records in 1835, but his estate was inventoried on Oct. 1, 1835. I wanted to see the date on the tax record to see if I could narrow down a date of death a little better. The tax records were signed on June 1, so I know that John died between June 1 and September 30. (If anyone happens to know a reasonable amount of time between a death and an inventory, I’d love to know that!)
I also printed some records for a man that several online trees say are John Smith’s father. I’d like to disprove this line quickly, if possible and if I can’t do that, then I need to start my research plan for this new person.
I’ve got the rest of today, and probably tomorrow as well so I’m going to work on those land records I’ve got. I’ve mapped them all out but as I was reading all those metes and bounds, I kept telling myself that I needed to come back for other “nuggets” that I was seeing – like who the neighbors were and other relationships that were mentioned. I’m pretty sure that I saw something about the land being part of a military patent, so I need to read that again. And when my eyes start to cross while reading the terrible handwriting, I’ll just jump back onto Ancestry and hit the random trail again!
If you found out at the last minute that you had an entire day to research, what would YOU work on?