I posted this to one of my Facebook pages and decided it said what I wanted to say and that I didn’t need to spend time writing it over…so here it is.

I’ve been thinking about “brick walls” for a post I’m writing on my blog where I post lengthier pieces. Some say brick walls exist. Others say that there are no brick walls at all and that it’s your methods and lack of knowledge about resources and genealogy in the area and time period that are the problem.

I’m a huge believer in genealogical education–in knowing about all the records that were created at all levels in the time and place when your ancestor lived and in knowing why those records were created, how they were created, how they were maintained, and how you came to view/access them. I’m a huge believer in knowing about the history of the area and time period in which your ancestor lived–including details about your ancestor’s background, social class, educational level, occupation, religious experience, etc. And I’m a huge believer in understanding the laws and legal system during the time and place in which your ancestor lived. And it’s good to organize your information to see if there are patterns or approaches that you may have missed.

It’s also good to reach out to others with accurate knowledge of the time and place in which your ancestor lived–and not knowledge they acquired by reading random social media posts by influencers who don’t necessarily know anything.

After all that…you may be stuck.

You may get to a time period where there simply are no more records. It happens. Of course you should make certain you’ve searched thoroughly, but there are times and places where you have hit the end of the road in terms of the paper trail.

You may also get to a person who for one reason or another, intentional or not, seems to have appeared out of nowhere. There are approaches to try on these people–sometimes they work and sometimes they do not. Sometimes DNA helps and sometimes, depending on how far back the problem is, how many descendants the person/family had and what paper trail there is, sometimes it does not. Autosomal DNA has its limits as one goes further back in the pedigree and strict maternal and paternal tests have limits as well.

Of course a person keeps trying and staying aware of finds or approaches that may help or things that might have been overlooked. But sometimes you do really reach the end of the discoverable lineage.

Just my two cents.




2 Responses

  1. So many of my ancestors loved the wild spaces. So wild there was no church, no town, no nothing. Then it’s history books of towns, territories, families. And when that fails, just leave it for a year or two. Eventually something will surface. Probably not the person’s name but something for you to research to get a step closer. Don’t forget blogs. Often people will blog about their line but in passing they might mention “an older sister” or a “brother who left”.

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