Do you have a mystery in your family history? Is there a question mark over part of your ancestry?
Have you been hitting “brick walls” when trying to find who you’re looking for?
As an individual it’s frustrating not being able to fill in those blanks. I know, because I have them in my own family tree. And, as a historian and genealogist it’s particularly frustrating not being able to answer those questions or find the information and records that can break down that “brick wall” or to put rumours and innuendo to rest. But, that’s also part and parcel of the job. We have to come to terms with the fact that we can’t solve them all, no matter how hard we try. Ancestors could be flippant beings and it was much easier to “fly under the radar” and leave no trace of themselves.
However, recently we were able to complete a family tree for a client who had a number of mysteries in their family. There were two illegitimate births on their paternal side of the family and the family believed that these would always be left as “unknowns”. And, to be honest, we weren’t too hopeful either. There was no information to go on as to who the fathers of these illegitimate children were (it’s mostly the father’s who are “unknown” in these situations). That didn’t mean we were going to give up without trying everything in our power (and knowledge and experience) to find those people. We grabbed onto some of the tiniest pieces of information, explored a number of different avenues, searched high and low, used sets of historical records to eliminate and cross-reference, broadened our searched before we could narrow it down. And, do you know what? We found them! We worked out who they were and all the pieces fell into the puzzle of this family history mystery.
Our client and their family were absolutely over the moon and honestly, so were we. We’re still coming down off the high that is this research.