Genealogy challenges: Part 1 – General overview

The vast majority of my posts have been about successes in tracing my ancestors and their kin and surprise discoveries along the way.  Today it’s about the other side of the coin.  For in tracing family history, there are failures, dead-ends and moments of absolute frustration.

I’ll be covering this side of genealogical research in the next couple of posts. I’ll be concentrating on a specific family and highlighting the challenges and issues which has made tracing them a veritable mission impossible.

When researching family history, there will be a minimum of 8 families to tackle. For example, this is mine:

On my father’s side of the family:
1:  My paternal grandfather:  Sheffey (Wythe & Smyth Counties, Virginia)

2:  My paternal grandmother: Roane (Henrico County, VA)

And then:

My Paternal Sheffey grandfather
His father – will be a Sheffey, so this doesn’t count as it’s the same family.

3. His mother – my paternal great-grandmother: White (Wythe County, Virginia)

My Paternal Roane grandmother
Her father will be a Roane, so this doesn’t count as it’s the same family.

4. Her mother – my paternal great-grandmother: Bates (Henrico County, Virginia)

On my mother’s side of the family:
5:  My maternal grandfather:  Turner (Charles County & La Plata, Maryland)

6:  My maternal grandmother: Matthews (part of her extended family has the surname Mathis) (Wise, Edgefield, South Carolina)

And then:

My maternal Turner grandfather
His father – will be a Turner, so this doesn’t count as it’s the same family.

7. His mother – my maternal great-grandmother: Josey (Rich Square, Northampton County, North Carolina)

My maternal Matthews grandmother
Her father will be a Matthews, so this doesn’t count as it’s the same family.

8. Her mother – my maternal great-grandmother: Harling (Blocker Township, Edgefield, South Carolina)

These are the eight families that the majority of my research is based upon.

Or looking at it another way….

My immediate family tree
My immediate family tree

Of these eight families, the following have been relatively straightforward to research:  Sheffey, Roane, Josey and Harling. The Sheffey and Roane are well-documented families. I’ve also been fortunate that there are a number of African-American Roane’s and Sheffey’s tracing their family’s history and sharing information via services like  Meeting these newly found extended family members, and sharing information online, has helped all of us on our respective genealogy adventures.

The Harlings and Joseys have also been relatively straightforward to research. They are distinctive family names – which always helps – and, like the Sheffeys and Roanes, were close-knit form the end of the Civil War through to the early 1900’s. They also tended to stay in the area they were born.

The White, Turner and Matthews/Mathis families have posed all manner of challenges. I’ll cover the respective challenges each family poses in the next couple of posts.

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