14 October 2013

Sometimes It Just Takes Fresh Eyes

We get a lot of family historians in the BDC.  Sometimes they have been working a line for years and are simply too close to the material to ingest, digest, infer and deduce the evidence presented.

Recently we helped a man who's been working the same family line for almost 20 years.  He had a James E. and a James L., both living in the 1860s, but he couldn't determine if it were the same man or the exact degree of relationship he had to these two Jameses (if indeed they were separate individuals). 

I put fresh eyes on the 1860 census - and immediately saw that James E. was 81 years old and this researcher's grandfather, Charles, aged 16 was in James E.'s household.  According to the 1860 Agricultural Census, James E. had a small farm of 25 acres.  As an elderly man, he would likely need help working that farm.  Alas the 1860 Federal census does not spell out kindred relationships within households but I suggested that Charles might be living with his grandfather, or a grand uncle, in 1860 to help work the farm.  The light bulb turned on!

A couple of documents later, the mystery was solved.  Evidence and corroborating sources indicated that James E. was Charles's grandfather; James L. was Charles's father.   

Source for image: http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/electronic-eyeglasses-replace-bifocals/ 

Reminder:  The BDC Research Room will be closed for lunch, Noon to 1 pm, on Wed., Oct. 16th. 

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