From: Dawn Tedder
Thank you so much for your columns. I am very new to family research and already I have hit a major stumbling block. I am making all those newbie mistakes too! Disorganized -- not recording who I've contacted (making a pest of myself), jumping up lines based on family trees, etc. I know this is very long but you did ask for details.
My stumbling block is my grandmother's mother’s family. In 1900 they are in Clifton, WI. Father Wm.(census is hard to read, maybe written over?) b. <1855>, wife Emma b.<1855> and kids Frank C. b. 1881, Chas. Archie b. 1883, Myrtle(my ggrandmother) b. 1886, Cliffton(Clifton) W. b. 1889, Luelen(Llewellen) G. b. 1894 and Earl H. b. 1897. I am sure this is my family because I have a family photo that says "Grandma and Grandpa Ashbaugh, and names the children. 2 families with that naming pattern for the children would be unusual and rare I think. Census taker list Wm's birthplace as WI and his father and mother's birthplace as Ohio. I noticed census taker had also made errors in birthplaces from top of census.
I began working backwards to 1880 and found Wm and Emma in Clifton, WI with son Oscar b.<1875>. 1900 census does show 8 births and only 6 living children. This could account for Oscar not being in 1900 census. This time census show Wm's b 1855 birthplace still as WI but father's is now Penn. and Wm's mothers is New York. Wm and Emma are on page 13 of census. On page 14 there are two more Ashbaugh(Ashbough) families. Robert b.<1810> in PA and Marian b.<1812> in NY. Next door to them is James Ashbaugh b.<1847> in Ohio (his parents birthplaces are PA/NY, like Robert and Marian's), his wife Mary and sons John b. 1876 and Robert b. 1877.
1870 census-Clifton, Pierce, WI Now it really starts to get confusing! In 1870 we find Robert Ashbaugh b. <1810> in PA, Mirian b. <1812> in NY and son James b.<1849>, daughter Martha B.
On to 1860 census- We find Robert Ashbough(Ashbaugh) with wife Mary ages and birthplaces hold true to 1870 and 1880 censuses. Robert and Mary's children are James, 13, Sarah, 11, Martha, 9, and WILLIAM again(not Robert W.) born in 1855 in WI! Very confusing!!! Databases still only show 1 real viable candidate for 1855 WI birth.
I then investigated various family trees and found a Robert W. Ashbaugh family tree for Robert and Mary(Marian) Ashbough's son born 1855 in Pierce Co. WI The parties who posted the tree don't cite sources or documentation for their assertions or if they do cite a source it is a source that refuses to cite documentation.
I did notice in 1900 that the neighborhood Wm and Emma Ashbaugh is living in is filled with immigrant or seemingly new families. It is not like a neighborhood that has been established for a time with people of similar cultures, etc. I think this is significant also. While checking neighbors I found 3 families of Schofields on pages A-5 and A-6 of the census while Wm and Emma are on B-6 (definitely neighbors). Those 3 Schofield families have 13 children of which 5 names are in common with the names of the Ashbaugh children, Charles, Myrtle, Frank, Earl and Glenn which is Llewellen's middle name. Coincidence?? I kind of doubt it. Another issue is that the Robert Ashbaugh families of 1860, 1870 and 1880 have all left the area(went to MN) including a Robert W. Ashbaugh dies in MN years later! Why did Wm and Emma not go if they were part of the family?
My conclusions are this 1. the Robert Ashbaugh line that moved on to MN may be related. Robert Ashbaugh is from PA as are Emma and the eldest Schofield (4 years older than Emma). If you can believe a census that you noticed errors on from the beginning. Either Emma and Wm are not related or something prevented them from leaving with the others(the loss of Oscar, disease?) or there was a falling out. The Schofields settled the area between 1880 and 1900. Based on the uncanny naming patterns of the Schofield children and the Ashbaugh children they are related as well. The Schofield heads of families are the age to be her brothers. Have I found her maiden name and family????!!!!! Apparently there were two Wm Ashbaughs born in Wisconsin in 1855 but either mine was missed or the spelling was so garbled that even wild combinations of Ashbaugh spellings and Soundex couldn't find a match.
Am I on the right track? Am I doing this right? Have I overlooked something really vital or attached to much significance to something? Is this how it supposed to be analyzed? What conclusions would you have drawn from this case? Even though I lack documentation do my conclusions make sense? Right now I really wish I could afford to hire a genealogist to talk this through with! Hopefully I will hear from you. I could really use some input from a professional. Myrtle, Genealogy is like a treasure hunt for me and a huge jigsaw puzzle rolled into one. The thrill of finding a missing piece or making contact with someone researching your lines from different angles has an adrenaline rush all it own!! If you could spare me the time I really need your advice! Thank you so much, Dawn Tedder.
You've done your "precursory" research (namely online census records & databases.) While you didn't specify the databases, I would bet they are the free ones at this point. You are right to question the lack of source documentation -- trees without roots don't withstand the test, do they?
You are right to question the census, particularly since we're usually viewing a microfilm of the copy made for the federal government, stored at the National Archives. How are you at copying 1,500 pages of names, dates, and place abbreviations on people you don't know, using only single line entries?
One clearly upsetting assumption about "finding her maiden name" is that the naming of children would be the same on both the male and female ancestral lines. This isn't going to be a truism. Naming patterns honor ancestors. While there are sometimes intermarriages, it is seldom that both sides of a marriage would have the exact same given names to honor.
SO, what to do next?
LOOK AT OTHER ORIGINAL RECORDS, often on microfilm:
-- obituaries (Remember that the surviving spouse or a child usually provides the info, and there could be errors here as well.)
-- cemeteries (Sometimes tombstones list birthplace in addition to date of birth.)
-- death certificates
-- church records (The pastor or priest may know the family well.)
-- probate records (See if money was left to people on HER side of the family, or if HER side is represented as a witness, etc.)
LIKELY SOURCES INCLUDE:
-- USGenWeb http://www.usgenweb.com
-- FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY CATALOG http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHLC/frameset_fhlc.asp
(look under "place" search for the localities in question.)
-- WISCONSIN STATE LIBRARY & Local libraries
-- MEMBERSHIP DATABASES (I think of them as indices.)
http://www.ancestry.com (Hopefully free through your local Family History Center.)
http://www.genealogy.com (Excellent resource for searchable scanned images of many of the scholarly books published by Genealogical.com)
http://www.heritagequestonline.com (Hopefully free through your local public library, or by joining certain others such as Godfrey.org)
With all that the internet has to offer, its still not possible to compile a family history without turning to courthouse and church records, in addition to other traditional resources. For more ideas see the free online edition of Val Greenwood’s RESEARCHER’S GUIDE TO AMERICAN GENEALOGY, offered by http://www.genealogical.com . The publisher describes it as “arguably the best book ever written on American genealogy, it is the text of choice in colleges and universities or wherever courses in American genealogy are taught.”
Happy family tree climbing!
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