Continuing the 52 Weeks project, week 7’s theme is “Unusual Source.” Not all of our genealogy discoveries come in the “regular” sources like vital records and the census. What is a discovery that you’ve made using an unusual source?
Many genealogy experts recommend that when you’re unable to find information about your ancestor, you widen your search to include the person’s “FAN club” – that is, “friends, associates and neighbors”.
I tried this strategy to great success a few years ago. I was trying to verify the family legend: that my great-great-grandparents Christian and Johanna Pearson lost their first two children to a house fire. I’d been unable to confirm this in the usual places – census and church records. It likely happened in the 1870’s, well before there was any such thing as death certificates in Nebraska.
I was perusing the collections at the Nebraska Historical Society and saw that they had a collection of diaries from Charles Hadsall of Saunders County. I recognized his name from some family letters – he was a neighbor to the Pearson family.
I had to order the microfilm copies of the diaries and have them sent to a library in Greeley (about 30 miles from me). I had to go through the microfilm in a painstaking way but I got lucky and found his diary entry of May 19, 1876. Once I had the date confirmed, I was able to look at that week’s issue of the Wahoo Wasp newspaper (also on microfilm). Mystery solved! See links below for my previous blog posts on this topic.