Do you have ‘genealogy buddies’ that you exchange research with? Do you write letters, post on mailing lists or message boards or in any other way make connections with others researching your family tree? Do you belong to a local, regional or national genealogy society?

If your answer to any of these questions is ‘No’ then I encourage you to write those letters, messages and posts and to join a local organization and meet their members. It has been my experience that some of my best breakthroughs have not come from my own isolated research, but from the help of others.

When I started researching my family, I was dependent on the U.S. mail to connect me with other researchers. Several times a year, a new edition of Everton’s Genealogical Helper (searchable at MyHeritage) would arrive. I would sit and study that magazine looking for anyone researching any of my surnames. When found, I would send off a letter to see if we might connect. Occasionally, I would pay for my own ‘advertisement’ listing my surnames and locations. Either way, I waited anxiously for responses to those letters and advertisements.

When email entered the picture, mailing lists, such as those hosted by RootsWeb, became the ‘go-to’ resource for contacting other researchers. I could send my message to the list and wait to see if anyone would respond. Message boards on and entered the picture shortly after that and became a popular way to post queries seeking answers. Facebook groups seems to be replacing the message boards and mailing lists. Thankfully, Katherine Wilson maintains a list of these groups so that we can find them and connect with other genealogists.

The methods used to connect have changed over time, but the value of these connections hasn’t.

One of my first ‘genealogy buddies’ was Walter Salts of Warren County, Indiana. My Crawford family migrated from Warren County to Dodge City, Kansas. Thus, I had Crawford and Foster ties in Warren County. I would send Walter a question and he would send me back a packet of information that usually involved at least a few newspaper clippings.

I ‘met’ another genealogy buddy thru e-mail. Sandy Kuchenreuther was researching her Currey family in Oregon and Washington. I was researching my ancestor, Hiram Currey of Leavenworth and trying to prove that he was the grandson of Hiram M. Currey, treasurer of Ohio in 1819. Thus, I was trying to prove my way into Sandy’s family. Anytime we would find something, we would share it. I remember our emails back and forth over an obituary claiming her relative was buried in Oregon. We both tried to track down the burial location to no avail — until one of us realized that there was an Oregon, Missouri. Once we made that connection, it was simple to find the burial and lots more information on that branch of the family.

I will be spending tomorrow with several of my genealogy buddies at the Topeka Genealogical Society. Each month, TGS hosts a DNA and a Brick Wall study group. Not only can I learn from the presentations but I can learn from the conversations. It is these conversations that spur me on to look for new resources or new genealogy buddies.

My participation in these study groups provided the incentive to apply for a ‘Brick Wall’ Consultation at the recent TGS conference and to register for that conference. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have been selected for one of four ‘Brick Wall’ Consultations.

Since applying for this consultation, I have been reviewing my research, searching for more documents and evaluating my findings. From this process, I have a new theory that I might have SELLERS ancestry. During my consultation last Friday, I was encouraged to continue this review process and expand it. I was also encouraged to reach out to other researchers, make connections and collaborate.

On Friday evening, I started applying some of the suggestions from my consultation. As I was doing this, I kept thinking about my new SELLERS theory. Remembering that I had met a TGS member in the past who was a SELLERS descendant, I decided to try and find her research. When I found her son’s tree on Ancestry, I was amazed to see that their Sellers brick wall ancestor died in Warren County, Indiana – the same county my Crawford family migrated to Kansas from.

Since I knew that this Sellers descendant was attending the TGS Conference, I decided to visit with him on Saturday. Even though neither one of us can connect our research to the other’s, I learned something very valuable from him. He told me where the Walter Salts collection of papers is housed!

During the final session of the conference, Michael J. Hall reviewed several of the features of Family Search. One of those features was the Family Search Community, which I need to investigate further.

Based on the recommendations from my consultation with Michael J. Hall and my experiences this weekend, I am going to do more to CONNECT and COLLABORATE by

  • Sending emails to local libraries, historical and genealogical societies to see if they have any letters, diaries or other sources to help me in my Crawford research
  • Submitting queries to Ancestry Message boards and the FamilySearch Community Groups
  • Contacting other researchers 
  • Maintaining current memberships in genealogical societies and possibly join other societies in the communities where I am researching

I’m looking forward to making new CONNECTIONS. Won’t you join me?


I had the privilege of doing a brick wall consultation with Michael J.Hall, Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer at Family Search this afternoon as part of the Topeka Genealogical Society Conference!

I submitted my research for the parents of James Crawford of Preble County, Ohio and the associated same name issues as my brick wall.

The primary suggestion Mr. Hall had was to use “indirect evidence”. Other suggestions included

  • Re-look at Revolutionary War pensions and read the affidavits
  • Look at 1812 pensions
  • Look at all Crawfords in the military records and collect evidence to eliminate them as potential fathers
  • Check out the lineage programs of the Ohio Genealogical Society (1st Settlers of Ohio, etc.)
  • Use the Family Search wiki
  • On Family Search — use all categories of records for a county
  • Locate church records – Quaker (also Presbyterian and Baptist)
  • Try school records
  • Check out the ‘Historical Collections’ on Family Search
  • In the census records, record the names of the 10 households above and the 10 households below and try to identify them.
  • Collaborate — contact any/all researching various Crawford lines
  • Collaborate — contact Sellers DNA matches
  • Visit archives


  • Stop researching and write about findings
  • Stop researching and write about thought process
  • Stop researching and write out questions
  • Just WRITE

Thank you Mr. Hall and Topeka Genealogical Society for this opportunity!

Identifying Parents

Have you had a set of parents for an ancestor in your tree for years when you discover another researcher has a different set of parents? I recently made that discovery for my ancestor Sarah Rush Briles (KP93-T9C) on Family Search.

Seeing this other set of parents made me question whether I had made a mistake. I knew that my old research included a transcription  of a petition for dower that was printed in The Genealogical Journal of Randolph County, NC (Vol 3, #4, pages 5-6)

This transcript shows Sallie Rush as the plaintiff. Listed among the defendants is Alexander Briles and wife Sallie. The body of the petition identifies Sally Rush as the widow of Noah Rush deceased.


With the parentage of Sarah Rush Briles now in question and my documentation based on a transcript, I knew I had to either find the actual petition for dower or some other document to support my case. By searching Ancestry, I was able to locate the probate papers for Noah Rush in North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998.

Towards the first of the packet is a petition to sell land. This petition names Alexander Briles and Sallie Briles his wife as one of the defendants. Later in the petition, it indicates that Alexander Briles and Sallie live in Kansas.

Rush, Noah Probate Papers
from North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
available on Ancestry at
Image 60901


Superior Court ____ Randolph County
Ransom W Harris as
Admin of Noah Rush Pltff

Petition to Sell Lands to pay debts

Rev. Zebadee Rush
Milton Blair and wife Mary Blair
Franklin Johnson and wife Martha Johnson
Alexander Briles and wife Sally Briles
Branson Briles and wife Dorcus Briles
George G Rush, John C Rush
Noah Rush, Nancy Wade
Sallie Hatfield, Zebadee Rush Junr
George Gastinow and wife Mary
Martha Rush, Nancy Rush
Louix Rush and Laura Rush
The last three by their guardian Louis Rush
To the honrable A. W. Lougee Judge of Said Court

The petition of R. W. Harris as Administrator
of Noah Rush deceased, respectfully showeth unto
your honor
That he qualified as administrator on the estate of the
said Noah Rush before B Bu Bulla Probate Judge of
said county during the year 1870
That the amount of the debts outstanding against the


Rush, Noah Probate Papers
from North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
available on Ancestry at
Image 60902

estate from the best information and knowledge which
he has been enabled to obtain is about three hundred
and fifty dollars, that the charges of administration will in
his opinion amount to about two hundred and fifty dollars
and there was [apeped] to be paid to the
widow in cash towards her years support two hundred
and fifty eight 30/100 dollars, making the entire
liabilities of the estate from the foregoing sources about
eight hundred and forthy eight 30/100 dollars
That the value of the personal estate of his intestate is
about three hundred and eighty five dollars. that of
this form of three hundred and eighty five dollars, a
portion is outstanding as yet, uncollected; which wo
much thereof as your Petitioner has been enabled to
collect has been nearly all paid out on the costs and
charges of the administration and on the afforesaid
allowance to the widow.
That the intestate at the time of his death was seized
and possessed in fee simple of the following tracts of lands
situate in said county
1 The Powel tract adjoining the lands of John Wilborn
and others lands of the deceased containing about one
hundred acres more or less and estimated to be worth
about one hundred dollars
2. A tract adjoining Benj. Rush and others containing fifty acres more or less valued at about fifty dollars
3. A tract adjoining P. Copple and others containing twenty four
acres more or less and worth about twenty four dollars.


Rush, Noah Probate Papers
from North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
available on Ancestry at
Image 60903

4 A tract adjoining the lands of Robert Loftlin
and others containing fifteen acres more or less worth
about fifteen dollars
5 The home tract adjoining R W Harris and Lewis Johnson and others containing by estimation three hundred acres.

That the sale of all the above named tracts of land
except the one last mentioned, and also the sale of such
part of said last mentioned tract given or sold by the intestate
to George Rush and Reconveyed by said Rush to the
intestate and not covered by the dower. containing about
one hundred and fifty acres, and value at about three
hundred dollars, he believing to be necessary to enable
him to pay the debts and charges of Administration of
his intestate

That the intestate in addition to the foregoing land, died
also seized and possessed in fee simple of one half interest
in a copper mine tract of one hundred acres more or
less adjoining N Spencer and others and no others.

That upon the death of said intestate the said lands
descended to his children and grandchildren as follows the
defendant Sally Briles wife of Alexander Briles Post office
Leroy, Kansas, Darcas Briles wife of Branson Briles Post
Office Virdis Kansas George G Rush Post Office McCarion
Indiana, John C Rush, Noah Rush and Nancy Waid
post office of the last three Springville Indiana Mary
Blair wife of Milton Blair, Martha Johnson, wife of
Franklin Johnson, the last two of Randolph County


Rush, Noah Probate Papers
from North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
available on Ancestry at
Image 60904

North Carolina Rev. Zebadee Rush Post Office Nashville
Nash County North Carolina. Sallie Hatfield, Zebadee
Rush Junr Mary Gastinow wife of George Gastinow and
Caroline Rush, the last four of Springville Indiana
and the following minors to wit: Martha Rush aged
20 years, Nancy Rush aged 18 years, Louis Rush aged
12 years and Laura Rush aged 9 years [I] and said
minors have for their guardian Louis Rush Post
Office Springville Indiana
To the ones therefore that the said tract of lands with the
exception herein before mentioned may be sold by your
petitioner upon such terms as your honor
may direct and that the process of sale may be
considered assets in his hands for the payment of debts
and charges of administration
Your petitioner brings
1st For and order for the sale of said lands for the purpose
2nd That the defendants may be duly notified according to
law to appear and show cause if any they can why the
prayer of your petition should not be granted
Jackson & Robins
Attorneys for Petitioner
R w Harris being duly sworn says I have herewit [?] the
foregoing petition,and know the contents thereof, the same is
true of my own knowledge, except as to matters state on
information and or to their, I believe it is to be true
R W Harris
Sworn to and subscribed
before me the 18th day
of July 1871
B B Bulla CSC


I will continue to search for documentation tying Sarah Briles of Coffey County, Kansas to Sallie Rush of Randolph County, NC. However, at this time, I believe that Noah Rush of Randolph County, NC is the father of Sarah (Sallie) Rush Briles.

I would love to hear from you about my Rush/Briles research in Randolph County, North Carolina. I can be contacted at mcphilbrick at

Is It Fake News?

Have you ever heard anything that sounded too good to be true? Have you ever believed something to only find out that says it is false? I know I have — both in my Facebook timeline and in my genealogy.

Thus, when I saw that there were parents for my ancestor, James Crawford on Family Search, I so wanted to jump up and down with joy. Not only are the parents identified, but so are the siblings.


This is fantastic news! However, the skeptic in me asked, “Is this really true or is it just ‘Fake News’?” 

Thus, I started looking for the sources behind the relationship. The only source attached that supported the parent-child relationship was a christening record for James Crawford found in Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950.


Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950 was used as the source for each of the children of Hew and Isobell (Muir) Crawford. I don’t doubt that Hugh and Isobell had a son named James Crawford who was christened in 1768. But is the James Crawford in this source, my James Crawford.

When seeing this source, my first thought was that I have no evidence that my James Crawford was born in Scotland. Unfortunately, I don’t have direct evidence saying he wasn’t born in Scotland.

According to the 1850 census, my ancestor was 78 years old and born in Virginia. My ancestor, James Crawford, married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, Kentucky. These two sources along with the history of other Crawford families in Lincoln, Madison and Garrard counties Kentucky prior to 1800 are the basis of my theory that my ancestor was born in Virginia and not in Scotland.

I also wondered whether there was DNA evidence to support Hugh Crawford as the father of James Crawford. Fortunately, I am managing some yDNA in the Crawford Family DNA Project. I didn’t remember any close matches who had a Hugh Crawford line. When I checked our ‘group’, I didn’t find any Hugh Crawfords in the group.


My Crawford line has been placed in the R1b-01B Ardmillan group. Most of the Hugh Crawford lines are in the R1b-13a Dal Riata group. Thus, the Crawford ‘experts’ don’t believe my line is closely related to a Hugh Crawford line.

My list of yDNA matches does include someone whose line goes back to a Hugh Crawford. However, our genetic distance is EIGHT at 111 markers.

At this point, I don’t believe the DNA evidence supports Hugh Crawford as the father of James Crawford.

Since Family Search contains a revision history, I followed the revisions and identified two researchers who seem to support Hugh Crawford as the father of James Crawford. I messaged each of them to see if they could shed further light on the family. I also messaged two descendants of James Crawford that have been researching the family longer than I have. I received a response from one of the ‘Hugh Crawford’ camp stating that the attached sources (i.e. the Christening record) were the support for Hugh Crawford being the father of James Crawford.

With the Christening record being the only support, I decided to evaluate that information against what I already knew about James Crawford (see James Crawford in my Ancestry tree for details). I have 1772 as the birth year for James Crawford. My source for that information is his tombstone found in the Eaton cemetery, Preble County, Ohio. Since the 1850 census indicates that James Crawford was 78 years old, this census record supports a birth year of 1772.

At this time, my conclusion is that James Crawford was born in 1772. Thus, he could not have been christened in 1768 in Scotland. Based on my conclusion, I changed his birthdate back to the 1772 date and removed the Scotland Baptism record from his list of sources.

Without the Scottish baptism record, there isn’t any evidence that Hugh (or Hew) Crawford is the father of James Crawford of Preble County, Ohio. Since one of the other descendants is more knowledgeable of how to edit relationships on Family Search, I’m going to let her attack the parentage issue.

Thus, I am considering the news that Hugh Crawford is the father of James Crawford of Preble County, Ohio to be Fake News. Unfortunately, that means I am still looking for the parents of James Crawford.


Tax Roles

I’ve been trying to learn more about my ancestor, John Thompson (1797-1857) in hopes of identifying his parents. He married Sarah Iglehart in 1820 in Ohio County, Kentucky. Thus, I wanted to learn more about any Thompsons in Ohio County, Kentucky around the time of this marriage.

Fortunately, the Ohio County, Kentucky Tax Books, 1799-1875 are available for viewing on Family Search. Even though these images aren’t indexed, it was fairly easy to find the images for the ‘T’ portion of the alphabet. (Note: I also recorded information for the Igleharts while viewing this resource.)

I found a John Thompson listed in 1820. This John Thompson was over 21 and owned a horse.

1820-Tax-KY-Ohio-Thompson-JohnIn 1821, the only Thompson’s I found were a John Tompson and a John Thompson — both over 21 with John Tompson owning a horse. In 1822, there was only 1 Thompson (Tompson) listing — John Thompson with two horses. In 1823, John Thompson still owned 2 horses but he also owned 50 acres of land on the Rough watercourse.

1823-Tax-KY-OhioCounty-Thompson-JohnIn 1824, John Thompson was listed with 2 horses and NO LAND. A James Tomson was also listed.

1824-Tax-KY-OhioCounty-Thompson-JohnIn 1825, there weren’t any Thompsons listed on the tax role. This was true of 1826, 1827 and 1828.

Since it has been a while since I’ve used tax records in my research, I used the Family Search wiki for Kentucky Tax Records to learn more about these records and what they might be telling me about John Thompson.

From the data I collected, I now have more questions:

  • Is the John Thompson in the tax record the father of James Thompson? If so, then the John Thompson in the tax record would not be my ancestor.
  • Could John Thompson and James Thompson be brothers? If so, then the John Thompson in the tax record could be my ancestor?
  • Who was the 2nd John Thompson (Tompson) in 1821? Is this a father/son situation?
  • Is the John Thompson in these tax records from 1820 to 1824 my ancestor?

At this point, I don’t have enough information to determine whether these tax records are for my John Thompson.

Are you a THOMPSON researcher? Feel free to contact me on Facebook (Marcia Crawford Philbrick) or via email at mcphilbrick on







Never Finished Pt 2

A comment was made on me previous post about sourcing. I totally agree that if I only count well-documented ancestors, then my % decreases drastically. I recently discovered the ability of the Fan Chart on the Family Search tree to display status of sourcing.

sources key

When I view my tree in regards to sourcing, it becomes obvious I have lots more work to do!


This is a little deceptive thru my great-great grandparents, since I haven’t uploaded a lot of my sources. However, it is an accurate depiction for my ancestors further back!


Thompson Deeds

As mentioned in a previous post, my John Thompson ancestor and another John Thompson of a similar age are both living in Warrick County, Indiana at the same time. I’m hoping that land records for Warrick County, Indiana will help me separate these two families. Buried in my paper files were some notes I took from the deed index books for Warrick County. Since there are additional notes in the margins of these notes, I’m assuming I looked at the deeds while on a research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake.


For some reason, I did not get copies of these deeds — and I need the actual deeds to track the land and separate the two men. Yesterday, I learned that my local library (Seneca Free Public Library) was an affiliate library. [HAPPY DANCE!] That meant that I could get copies of the deeds without having to travel to a family history center or another affiliate library.

So, I now have 22 Thompson deeds from Warrick County, Indiana to work with. From previous work with deeds, I learned that the wife’s name is likely to appear on a deed where the land is sold. Since I believe the wives of these two men have different names, I’m hoping to use the sale of land to figure out who lived where.

Since my ancestor, John Thompson, married Sarah Iglehart, I’m looking for a wife named Sarah. Below is an image of the deed where John and Sarah Thompson sell land.



Warrick County Indiana
Deed Book 9 page 240-241

John Thompson and Sarah Thompson his wife to Samuel C Bradford
19 Jun 1850

This indenture made this the nineteenth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty between John Thompson and Sarah Thompson his wife of the County of Wapello in State of Iowa [Apct] first part and Samuel C Bradford of the County of Warrick and state of Indiana of the second part witnesseth that said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of fifteen hundred dollars paid to the said party of the first part by the party of the second part in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have granted bargained and sold and by these presents do grant bargain sell convey and confirm unto the said party of the second part his heirs and assigns forever all the following described pieces or parcel of land to with the West half of section no twenty five (25) and also the north west quarter of the south east quarter of section no twenty three all in township no five (5) South of Range No nine (9) west lying and being in the county of Warrick in the state of Indiana containing by estimate three hundred and sixty acres be the same more or less together with all the rights privileges and appertenances thereunto belonging to have and to hold the above described premises with all the improvements and appurtenances to the same belonging to the said party of the second part his heirs and assigns forever and the said party of the first part for themselves and their heirs do hereby covenant with the said party of the second part and his heirs that they are lawfully seized in fee of the premises aforesaid that the premises are free and clear from all incumbrances whatsoever and that they will forever warrant and defend the same and the quiet and peaceable possession thereof together with the appertenances to the same & belonging unto the same Samuel C. Bradford his heirs and assigns against the lawful claims of all persons whomsoever in witness whereof the said John Thompson and Sarah Thompson his wife who hereby relinquish her right of dower to the above described premises has hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.
John Thompson (seal
Sarah (her mark) Thompson (seal)

In presence of
[no signatures]

State of Indiana
Warrick County SS
I J Wart B Moore Recorder in and for said county do hereby certify that the above named John Thompson came personally before me and acknowledge the foregoing instrument of writing to be his voluntary act and deed for the purpose therein mentioned. Also Sarah Thompson above named wife of the said John Thompson who being by me examined privately separate and apart from and with the hearing of her said husband and the full contents and [pinpost] of the said deed being by me made known to her she acknowledge that she voluntarily executed the same of her own free will and account and without any coercion or compulsion from her said husband. In witness of which I hereunto set my hand and seal at Boonville this nineteenth day of June AD 1850.
J. Wart B. Moore RWC (seal
By Isaac S Moore deputy

There are also deeds where a John Thompson and wife Eliza sell land.



Warrick County Indiana
Deed Book 4 page 37

1 April 1840
John Thompson and Eliza Thompson his wife to Eddy Brown

This indenture made and entered in to this first day of April one thousand eight hundred and forty between John Thompson and Eliza Thompson his wife of the one part and Eddy Brown of the other part both of the State of Indiana and the county of Warrick and Spencer witnesseth that the parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars to them paid in hand the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged that the parties of the first part has bargained sold and conveyed unto the said Eddy Brown his heirs and assigns all the tract and lot of land designated by the following nombers to wit the North west quarter of North East quarter of section no. Twelve in township four South of Range No. Six west containing 40 acres being and situate in the County of Warrick to have and to hold the same with all the appertenances belonging thereunto to the only proper use and benefit of the said Eddy Brown his heirs or assigns forever and the parties of the first part doth covenant and agree with the said Eddy Brown that they are lawfully seized in fee simple and that they have a lawful right to convey the same and that the premises are free from all incumbrances and the parties of the first part their heirs or assigns doth warrant and defend the same unto Eddy Brown his heirs or assigns from all claims that may come through them or their heirs forever in witness whereof the parties of the first

Continued on page 38

Part have hereunto set or caused to set their hands and seals the day and date above written

John Thompson (seal)
Eliza (her mark) Thompson (seal
George P Hall
John Scales

The State of Indiana
Warrick County
I James Asheley a justice of the peace in and for sd county do certify that John Thompson and Eliza Thompson his wife personaly apeared before me and the contents of the written and foregoing indenture made known to the wife and her examined separate and apart from her sd husband and she did acknowledge the with to be her voluntary act and deed for the purpose therein mentioned and desired that the same might be recorded as such. In testimony whereof I do hereunto set my hand and seal this the 10 day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty.
James Ashley JP

Now that I have two different land descriptions associated with two different wives, I can track the land descriptions and begin separating the deeds for these two men.


Happy Dance!

The Seneca Free Public Library is an affiliate Family Search library!

create240I only have to drive a few blocks to access the restricted resources on Family Search! That means I have access to deeds, marriages, wills, probates and a wide variety of other resources at my local public library.

About a month ago, the ‘genealib’ mailing list was discussing the new application to become an affiliate library. I shared that information with the director of the Northeast Kansas Library System. She shared it with the directors of public libraries in northeast Kansas. My local librarian completed the application and notified me today that everything was approved and configured.

Upon learning this fantastic news, I packed up my laptop and to-do list and headed to the library. In a couple of hours, I was able to download over 20 Thompson deeds from Warrick County, Indiana. These deeds were dated prior to 1900 and will help me sort out the two Thompson family lines living in Warrick County, Indiana about 1840. I spent less time accessing these deeds at my local library than it would have taken me to drive to and from what previously was the nearest affiliate library.

From my afternoon of research, I have some tips for others wishing to use the Seneca Free Public Library to access restricted records on Family Search:

  • Use a library computer (the open wireless network evidently didn’t access the Internet via the same IP address as the library computers)
  • Use a computer in the genealogy room
  • Images are downloaded to the DOWNLOADS folder – can be copied/pasted onto a thumb drive
  • Saving to the SOURCE BOX on Family Search is a LINK to the record. The image is not viewable from home.

See my post, Affiliate Library, for information about the application process and join my HAPPY DANCE!

Trail Diaries

The Family Search blog posted several items today about the westward migration, including the post: The Westward Expansion and Pioneers — How It Affects Your Family History. Even though I can’t prove any of my ancestors migrated to California or Oregon, I have done some trail research. In particular, I am looking for Hiram M. Currey who disappears sometime between 1845 and 1850.

Operating under the assumption that he might have gone to California in 1849 for the Gold Rush, I have sought out memoirs and diaries of the trek west. One of the resources I’ve used is the book, Platte River Road Narratives by Merrill J. Mattes. This book not only indexes around 2000 trail diaries but provides a description of the diary and information regarding the repository where the diary may be found.


I was able to read many of the diaries from the Peoria, Illinois area when I visited the Merrill J Mattis Research Library at the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence Missouri.

Another resource I’ve used in my trail research is the series of books, Covered Wagon Women: Diaries & Letters from the Western Trails. Each book contains several diaries, letters or journals written by women about their journey west.

I investigated these books hoping to find mention of my Peoria, llinois Currey family. I did not find my Currey family. Instead I found the complete journal written by Amelia Hadley, my great grandmother’s sister.

These diaries, journals and letters provide great insight into the journey west. They are well worth the effort to locate and read.

Locating Local Information

With lots of online information, I feel like I’m forgetting to look for information offline. In the process, I’m also forgetting some of my early research skills.

I’ve recently read several Facebook posts inquiring about who to contact for local information. Thanks to these posts, I’ve been thinking about the question and how I should tackle such a research question. I’ve also been thinking about what I would tell someone looking for Nemaha County, Kansas information.

I believe this question is actually two questions:

  • What type of information (or document) do I need?
  • Where can I find that information (or document)?

The answer to the first question will make it easier to determine where to look for the document. When I first started researching my family history, I would pull the Handy Book (The Handy Book for Genealogists) off of my shelf and turn to the desired state to learn about where I could write (or sometimes go) to obtain the document.



Included was information for each county stating what documents were available in the county courthouse.


This book still occupies a space on my bookshelf and I still consult it. However, the Internet makes it easier to learn about the availability of records. Below are some of the resources I would check to learn about Nemaha County, Kansas (where I happen to live).

( Note: The issues with RootsWeb being down affected many GenWeb sites, GenWeb Archive sites and the RedBook. Those sites are coming back — but it may take some time.)

The above resources would help me learn about the courthouse, local libraries, local historical societies and possibly provide links to library catalogs, archives, digitized records, books and local newspapers. Since many records were transferred to the state, I would do a similar review of the above resources for the state.

By researching the county/state, I can figure out the best place to contact (or go) to locate the desired information. I need to remember to apply these skills in my research!