Never be afraid to try something new.
Amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic. (No BS Marketing Letter, May 2009)
If you’ve searched Ancestry.com, both historical records and world tree posts. If you’ve searched Rootsweb and US Gen Web, including the forums. If you’ve searched World Vital Records. com. And hunted for your family in all the nooks and crannies of Google.com. Without finding your answer. Without finding living descendants that match.
Its time to try something NEW.
Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain)
The purpose of this “Virginia is for lovers” of genealogy blog is to introduce new search strategies, overlooked sources, records that never get searched but have been in the drawer or on the shelf all the time–
Some years ago, a woman wrote me for suggestions on what she could do to find her ancestor. She had done the census, searched the cemeteries, read the deeds, and looked for a will or any probate document. ”Have you checked the tax records?” I asked. ”No,” she replied. ”That’s what you need to determine which sons come out of which households.”
So she went to the state archives and asked to see the tax rolls. The man at the reference desk asked,”Why?” She repeated what I told her. He then coughed and told her, “You will just waste your time. No such information is included on the tax lists. Trust me.”
She returned home without looking. Then she called me to ask what else I could suggest. I commiserated with her briefly. Then I told her to drive back to the archives and search the tax lists. To ignore the “trust me” guy and just do it. It took her three days.
When she got home, she called me–so excited that she could hardly get the words out. Her ancestor appeared at age 16 as a member of the household. He stayed on the list until he was 32, married, and ready to move away. The tax lists told where he lived–what degree from the courthouse. And where he went when he moved–what degree from the new courthouse. And as she examined previous lists, she determined what household he came out of.
“Did you tell the “trust me” guy?” I asked. ”You bet I did!” she laughed. ”He apologized for being uninformed.”
This, read it and almost weep, story is not meant to cast any aspersions on those who advise at archives and libraries. I want you to assert yourselves in confidence, and get the answers. Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://www.arleneeakle.com
PS I, too, am an amateur. I, too, am also a professional. And I hope that my courage to try something new never deserts me, so that when I take a risk, I back it up with documents. And the knowledge that I already tried the traditional record sources first.