What kind of a researcher are YOU? It’s way too early to be thinking about swimming, but I’m going to use a water analogy anyway.
Are you a person who doesn’t really like to get in the water and get wet, but you are very happy doing some sunbathing and dipping in your toes?
If that matches your research style, then you are someone who does very little of your own original research. Your family tree has likely grown and developed, but has an unknown number of weak branches that won’t survive. I don’t think the majority of genealogy researchers (thankfully) into this category.
Are you a person who likes to take a short swim on hot days? Although you might think about spending hours relaxing in the water, for the most part you jump in for a quick cool down and then go on your way.
If your answer to this question is YES, then you are in good company. Most researchers create their family trees through a combination of online information (which hopefully is verified) and original research.
However, if this description fits you, you need to extend yourself and your research skills beyond the quick in-and-out immersion in the water.
Are you a person who loves to swim, uses it regularly as part of an exercise routine and learns new swim strokes?
An experienced researcher prepares him/herself with the tools of the trade and is prepared to learn new skills to achieve success. More importantly, an experience, serious researcher doesn’t want to leave many, if any, stones unturned in the quest to learn about the family history.
Here is another question for you: How deeply do you dive in to access underused genealogical resources?
Let’s take a look at a sample listing in the FamilySearch catalog for Lawrence County, Ohio. There are 32 categories of record sets (yes, some, like census and military have multiple entries), but there is quite a variety:
A short swim researcher will likely have checked out the census, land and property and vital records. Probate records might be one more entry to review.
Some might not pertain to your ancestor, such as orphan and naturalization records. However, many of these entries might well have additional information about your ancestral line.
Church Records, Court Records (some not indexed and therefore shunned by most), Taxation Lists, and Guardianships are just a few of the record sets that might be hiding tidbits about your family. To me, though, the most exciting category is Genealogy-Societies – Periodicals.
I chose Lawrence County, Ohio because my husband’s family has ties there. The Bandys left Botetourt County, Virginia in the late 1820s and settled in Ohio.
Andrew Bandy, my husband’s 3X great grandfather and his brother, George Bandy migrated together from Virginia to Ohio. Whle perusing old issues of The Report (Spring 1979), the Lawrence County Genealogical Society’s publication, I found an article transcribed from the Ironton Register, dated 17 November 1864. It listed those residents who voted for Abraham Lincoln and those who were Copperheads, Northerners who supported the Southern cause.
You might think that Virginians with deep Southern roots would be on the Copperhead list. Andrew Bandy and his son, Jackson, were on that list. Surprising to me, George Bandy voted for Abe! Neither of these men served in the Civil War and I have no knowledge that any of their children did either. Yet, Bandy family loyalties were definitely on opposite sides of the cause.
Church records are another fun resource. I found a book called Symmes Creek, written and compiled by Wayne B. Ingles, which included membership minutes of the Sand Fork Missionary Baptist Church. Missionary Baptists substitute a historical religious belief for a belief felt form the heart, to present it simply.
In The History of Gallia County (which borders Lawrence and where George Bandy lived for many years), there was but one short paragraph about the church:
Symmes Creek, Ingles’ book, had entries dated from January 1850 regarding the Sand Fork Church. The format of the minutes was similar to Quaker meeting minutes, if you have ever read them. There were discussions held about whether or not to exclude members who drank alcohol for any purpose other than medicinal and commentary about visiting members who had absented themselves from church attendance.
Members included Celia, Martha and Tamzy Bandy, Rhoda Sturgill and Sabra Sanders, all related by blood or marriage. One member who had been excluded was George Bandy, Celia’s husband. The reason isn’t stated, but I wonder if he was someone who drank for other than medicinal reasons?
However, just these two examples have helped bring members of this family to life. If I hadn’t been the type of researcher who extended my skills and tried to leave no stone unturned, I would have missed these details about the Bandy family.
It’s your turn – what kind of swimmer do you aim to be?