Hit a Brick Wall? These Genealogy Tips can help

Everyone hits a brick wall at some stage.  I hope these genealogy tips will help you break them down.

Cite your sources

It is important to cite sources where possible - it can be useful to know where you obtained information for future reference.

Use all information from the record

It is best to note down all information from the record - it may help in the future.

Cannot find your ancestor in the records? Try alternative name spellings or dates

Another of the genealogy tips is if you are given a possible birth date by another person, but cannot find the entry you are seeking, it is advisable to look a few years either side of this date.

Try alternative spellings of your ancestor's surname if you are unable to discover their record in an index.

You can also use the wildcard search, one method of which is to place a * after the second or third letter of the surname which will bring up many alternative spellings, such as Min*, which will bring up Minter, Minton, Mintorn etc.

You can also place the * at the beginning of the surname, such as *inton, which will bring up Hinton, Minton, Winton etc.  It will also being up Adlington, Elkinton, Darlinton etc.  This also works for Christian names - by typing Ann*, this will bring up Ann, Anne, Annie etc.

If you are unable to track down your ancestor's birth certificate, try obtaining any possible sibling's certificate instead - this may help you to determine their mother's maiden name.

Cannot locate a marriage? Look for their children

Look for birth dates of children if you cannot find their parent's marriage.  Their children's ages may give you an approximate marriage date.

Your ancestor may have married more than once

Your relative may have married more than once to a person with the same name as their previous partner - if you see children baptised to Abraham and Ann for example, you should consider Ann may not be the same wife.

I have seen an example of this in that my relative Abraham Devonshire married Ann Rolls and then after she died, he married another Ann Rolls, the previous Ann's cousin - so confusing!!!

Cannot locate someone on a census? These genealogy tips may help

If your ancestor cannot be found in a census index, it does not necessarily mean they are not on the census.  Sometimes looking for a specific address rather than looking by name can yield results.

Try obtaining the birth certificate of a child born nearest the census date if you cannot find your family - this gives you another avenue to explore.  Sometimes a child's baptism record gives their parent's address so try looking there too.

Wills and indentures can be useful

Do not discount wills - sometimes family members are mentioned.  This is especially helpful if a child was baptised in a period where the parish register is missing, but you suspect you know who their father was.

I have first-hand experience of this in that my ancestor Joseph Scrivener mentioned his daughter Eleanor in his will, this proving the connection.

Look for indentures and deeds - they may help you to establish a connection because a pedigree is sometimes mentioned.  By looking at an indenture you may be able to discover the person's ancestry.

Use Monumental Inscriptions

Should there be more than one possible entry for your ancestor in a burial register, or you require more information than that noted, ty looking at monumental inscriptions.

They can sometimes give further details about your ancestor and their family than can be found in a burial register, especially in earlier years.

Can military records help you?

If you cannot determine your ancestor's birthplace, try looking for their discharge or enlistment paper if they were in the military - they sometimes mention an individual's birthplace.

Other genealogy tips you may find helpful

A site that may help you further with your research and possibly break down some brick walls you may have is Genealogy Links, which is a site that has links to numerous family history resources from all over the World.

Find out how I broke down my own brick wall by reading my blog post at America's Footprints