BLOG BLITZ – GUEST POST – Monday 26 September 2016 – PAT KRUGEL
The month of September is a special time for me:
my THIRD novel and sequel to
the final in the unsavory heritage series,
GUEST POST – PAT KRUGEL
Sometime after my mother had passed, I grew interested in finding our family roots. Thanks to her repetitive discussions about family members, and the stories surrounding them, names got lodged in my memory. Some I had met and some I knew only through her discussions. Mom had a story associated with just about every person directly or indirectly related to her.
My desire to know who and where I descended from surfaced after a sister started digging around, with some success, in our paternal line. She found interesting tidbits of history. Even legitimized some parts of family legends I now blush over having repeated. However, that only scratched the surface of the many questions she had no answer for. Knowledge about a grandfather was no longer enough for me. I just had to dig out information on his father as well.
Like many others who start their unknown journey on that hallowed genealogical path, I didn’t know where to begin. I started raking over my memory in an attempt to recall anything on relatives. Then I had long discussions with various family members, gleaning a few more details.
I knew some of our line from childhood, such as Great Uncle Doc, who was my paternal grandmother’s brother. It was that grandmother’s father-in-law, my great-grandfather, I really wanted information on. He had fallen by the wayside, covered up and forever lost by the shadows of time—or so it seemed.
I returned to that southern county my family tree was rooted in, spending time refreshing connections with cousins. I chased down information on my grandparents. The last one had died, my paternal grandmother, by my eighth birthday. From that, I gleaned a grain of what I needed to move back into the past. My work was difficult, tedious, and came with a bucket load of frustration. But I persisted, gaining a little here, a partial bit there, to eventually uncover most of my family’s roots.
The first productive act I undertook was signing up on my birth county’s genealogical website. I actively participated in emails that went back and forth among the group, as we all looked for those elusive members in our ancestral lines.
After discovering the value of the census, I found several ancestors while working my way through the 1850 census. An important thing I learned was the census divided counties into enumeration districts, and in rural areas, at least in Tennessee, I found the county divides them into ‘civil district numbers’. What this meant was I could find many of my family if I knew what district number they had resided in.
A few times in the 1880 census, I found other ancestors not far from the one I sought, 4 or 5 lines down or on the next page. Finding their general neighborhood, I hit the mother lode. In at least one instance that included uncovering as many as four different family lines in one district.
That paternal great-grandfather was the big headache for me—my “brick wall”. I looked for him constantly with no success. Even after I discovered and had documentation on many in my lines, I knew that genealogical bug still gnawed at me when all my finds didn’t satisfy. The unknown out there still kept me searching.
I’ll give an example of that. After putting out inquires for this great-grandfather on the county website, another member forwarded me an excerpt from legal decisions made in a late 1800’s court document. This person had the right surname, and the first name was William, also correct. The only problem was, there were several Williams with my ancestor’s last name in that county at the same time.
I searched several years without success. Then my husband and I started researching at an LDS family history center. Along with available marriage records and other items, I found a microfilm with an item referencing that excerpt previously sent to me, from Chancery Court minutes. Could this be my William?
The LDS center sent for that roll and, scrolling through it, I found the court document, including an official drawing of the division of land his widow had received.
I went on the Tennessee State Library and Archives website and found early county records that could be loaned to a public library for viewing. The microfilm rolls were sent to our closest library for me to view. I found records of that great-grandfather’s purchases at estate sales of others and then a later estate sale where his possessions were sold off after his death.
That excerpt of my great-grandfather took me back again to my birth county. There, one evening during a meeting, the genealogical society broke out the good stuff preserved in a bank vault. With the information I had, they traced the original court records and furnished me with a copy of pages of legal disputes starting shortly after my great-grandfather’s accidental death. This ran from before the Civil War, to finally settle in my great-grandmother’s favor years later.
These tools made my search successful: joining an online genealogical group in the county of my birth (their historical society, too, receiving the almost priceless quarterlies); scouring all the U.S. censuses; joining Ancestry.com; using Family Search online; and going to a local Family History Library. I also requested military records through the National Archives.
I used too many sources to list them all, but here is one that really worked for me. Sending off for my grandfather’s death certificate, as well as his brother’s, gave me the middle initial that separated my William from the others. That initial that told me I had found the right man.
After the brick wall fell, and I was no longer Root bound, I discovered something more precious than my genealogy. Something I really wanted to click my southern heels together, about.
All my lines had at least one God-fearing preacher among them.
CISSY LAUNCH PARTY, unsavory heritage series, Tessa, Clara Bess, Cissy, One Mother, Two Daughters One Favorite One Not, Where Were the Adoption Papers, #newbooklaunch, Guest Post, Pat Krugel, Root Bound