DO YOU REALLY KNOW SOMEONE ?
OR DO YOU JUST DATE ??
Sounds something like a question from a dating service doesn't it?
It applies to genealogical research more then most people really realize though.
When researching, we find ourselves quite often literally chasing our ancestors through various townships, states and sometimes countries. Sometimes it seems that our ancestors were more mobile than many of us our in the current day. Even though we have always been told that their resources were so very limited in comparison to today.
It is my own personal opinion that in order to second guess someone's reaction or their resulting activity, we really need to KNOW that person well.
It is also my opinion that just as there are many different types of persons in the world, there are also different types of researchers. In my book, the two main breakdowns are:
Type 1: The researcher who collects dates and places
Type 2: The researcher who REALLY KNOWS his ancestor
If all you want to know is WHEN your ancestor was born and died or just when they moved here or there; then Type 1 Researcher is more then adequate.
If you have the desire to know WHO your ancestor really was or what type of lives they lived, then you really need to be Type 2 Researcher.
How on earth can you figure out just what your ancestor may have done in a given situation to give you a clue as to where they went or what happened to them; if you don't know them?
I feel to adequately research, you need to learn as much as possible about your ancestor in order to make certain determinations about their trails. After all, at a certain point, paper trails are hard to find and sometimes you need to make judgments of what you think makes sense or is feasible for them to have done.
Were they risk takers?
If not, that might eliminate migrating to a "new" territory and further eliminate a name you find in a census record.
Were they land barons? or wealthy?
If so, there may be land registered in their name in a county, but they may not even reside there.
Were they Quakers?
If so, that might eliminate a similar name found on the listings for Military Service.
Did they have siblings?
If so, that might lead you to finding just where they may have migrated to; if you look for the siblings also.
Were your ancestors kind of well...underhanded in their dealings?
Could this lead to a search of prison records??
Or were they argumentative persons who were likely to be in confrontations ? Thus leading to possible court records?
Were they educated? or were they for the most part illiterate?
In either case, these answers could "zoom in" or eliminate someone with the same name found in a field that doesn't fit their mold.
For example: Any illiterate person most likely wouldn't be a judge
Was your direct ancestor the one who kept the family records in the Bible or was he the one who was the administrator of the others Wills?
This could also give you a further look at his character as someone the rest of the family trusted or felt were educated. That type of person may have a Will of their own, or at the very least there may be records in a probate court of their actions on behalf of others.
Were they the pioneering type?
For instance, were they the type who would have gone to a new area and founded a new town?
I hope to have given you a variety of reasons to really get to KNOW your ancestors.
Researching is REALLY more then just finding the name and dates. Finding the PERSON is always most interesting. It sometimes leads you to clues as to why you are the way you are. It may be a family trait from long ago.