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!


The Topeka Genealogical Society Annual Conference is coming. Have you registered yet?

Michael J. Hall, a Kansas native, will be the featured speaker on Saturday. Mr. Hall has an extensive background in genealogy, including his current position as Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer at FamilySearch.

Mr. Hall will present four sessions on Saturday.

  • Over the Flint Hills and Over the Plains: The Value of Military Records and Newspapers
  • Inspring Family Stories: Finding the Grain of Truth
  • Ad Astra Per Aspera (To the Stars Through Difficulty): Kansas Land Records
  • A Little of This and a Little of That: Effectively Using

On Friday afternoon, there will be breakout sessions
Breakout Session 1: 12:30 – 1:20 PM

  • Doughboys of World War I – Dr Richard Faulkner
  • Observer – Brick Wall Consultation – Michael J. Hall

Breakout Session 2: 1:30 – 2:20 pm

  • Fraternal Organizations for Research – Danni Altman-Newell
  • Observer – Brick Wall Consultation – Michael J. Hall

Breakout Session 3: 2:30 – 3:20 pm

  •  Researching the Shady Side of the Family Tree – Barb LaClair
  • Observer – Brick Wall Consultation – Michael J. Hall
  • *Tour of the State Historical Archives – KHS Staff Member

Breakout Session 4: 3:30 – 4:20 pm

  • Do You Have Mayflower Ancestors? – Della Regenold
  • Observer – Brick Wall Consultation – Michael J. Hall

During the ‘Observer – Brick Wall Consultation’ sessions, Mr. Hall will deduct ‘deep dive’  sessions with selected individuals to discuss one of their genealogical brick walls.

I am HONORED to have been selected as one of the four brick wall consultations! For my application, I submitted my fourth great-grandfather, James Crawford (1772-1854). Below is my research question:

Who is the father of James Crawford?
NOTE: Same Name issue with researching this James Crawford

  •  Next door neighbor in Preble County, Ohio was James Crawford (1770-1833) who married Martha Knight in 1793 in Lincoln County, KY. This James Crawford migrated to Warren County, IN where he died. Also migrating to Warren County, IN at about the same time was Nelson G. Crawford, the son of James and Sally (Smith Duggins) Crawford.
  • There is a third James Crawford (1758-1836) living in Madison and Garrard counties in Kentucky prior to 1800. This James Crawford was married to Rebecca Anderson and migrated to Jennings County, IN and then to Jefferson County, IN.
  • Garrard County KY histories refer to a Rev. James Crawford. There was a Rev. James Crawford (1752/3 – 1803) at Walnut Hill Presbyterian Church in Fayette County, KY. Rev. James Crawford was married to Rebecca McPheeters.
  • DAR applications by descendants of James Crawford and Rebecca Anderson appear to have records mixed up with a James Crawford (1757-1836) who resided in Fleming County, KY. This James Crawford was married to Sarah Vansant.

I’m overwhelmed to have been chosen for this honor. I look forward to hearing what Mr. Hall has to say about my brick wall. I’m also looking forward to learning from the various sessions and from others attending the conference.

Please join me in Topeka on April 5th and 6th at the 

Topeka Genealogical Society Annual Conference

Register Today