Well, not your neighbors, but who were your ancestors’ neighbors? Searching neighboring households in the Canadian or US Census and nearby graves on the FindAGrave website are two ways to find your relatives’ relatives! Confession: I started this post in November but I could not stop doing my genealogy in order to write it. The result is a much longer blog entry than originally intended and, for that, you have my apologies.
Remember this post about my Carrier line? Well, I wanted to work on the family of Ferdinand, the father of those girls. I knew only of his parents for the longest time. Recently I came across a sister, Marie, so that was great. But, I knew there had to be more. I applied the same technique for finding Ferdinand’s siblings as I have in the past to find spouses’ parents . . . Turn the page!
Here is what I mean. Below, you see Ferdinand, his wife Silphide, and their children on the 1891 Québec census. He’s number 22 near the bottom. (click to enlarge)
Now, Ferdinand’s family group looks like this!
Turning our attention over to FindAGrave, let me warn you that what is shared on that site is not 100% accurate. I promise I always prove everything with documents found on FamilySearch or Ancestry before adding anything to my own tree. That said, it is a great place to get hints that you can add to a search query. It’s amazing how you can improve your search results, kind of push that search engine along, if you have just one more date, a place name, or a spouse’s first name to add to the search terms. That’s how I test what I find there.
For example, here is a FindAGrave memorial for James Asa Blanton, Woodland Cemetery, in Ashland, Hanover, Virginia.
Notice in the center under Family Links that he is connected to Ella Terry. I can list her name as a spouse, now, in a records search and hopefully find their marriage record. I can also click through the link to Ella’s memorial and see if she is connected to her parents or any of her siblings. This is one way to use FindAGrave in your ancestral searches.
Here is another way. Look, again, at James Asa’s memorial. In the left hand column, you see the phrase “Find all Blantons in:” Your options include finding everyone with that surname in the same cemetery, in the same town, in the same county, or in the same state. So, by clicking on “Find all Blantons in Woodland Cemetery,” I will get the following hits.
Look at all those Blantons! There are 15 in this cemetery. I’ve marked some of the ones that look like possibilities. Grover Cleveland is James Asa’s brother. (Their sister is my great grandmother.) The other names I do not know, but if I go back on my pedigree chart to the brothers’ grandfather, Maurice Eldred Blanton, I see on my tree that Maurice has a brother named Lewis Franklin (see above). I did not have a death date recorded for him, but now I do! Thank you very much, FindAGrave.
I begin to click through each Blanton memorial to check for family links. When I don’t find them, I perform a records search and add some of the names into the child or spouse fields to the names I already know, pushing that search engine to find connections. By the end of two days, I have re-created Lewis Franklin’s entire family, found spouses for his children, and attached documents to my FamilySearch tree; proving all of the birth, death, and marriage dates. Below, left, you see all of Franklin’s family with his wife Mary Linda Cross and all of their children!
By the way, FindAGrave user An Ashland Genealogist, whose name you see at the bottom of so many of these memorials, is the person I wrote about and thanked back in the blog Remember to Say “Thank You.” Another way I try to pay it forward is by proposing edits to memorial managers once I establish familial connections. So, Lewis Franklin Blanton’s memorial looked like this when I started:
Today’s lesson? You don’t have to wait for record hints to show up on FamilySearch or for Ancestry to cough up just the right search hits to find your relatives’ relatives. You can turn back a few pages or look ‘down the street’ a few houses on census records or take a virtual walk through your ancestors’ cemetery to find the names of those elusive family members.
For those of you curious (or confused), I’ve attached a little map for you. The Carriers are my dad’s family and the Blantons are on my mom’s side.Tonight, this house has one satisfied family historian in it . . . and one fairly bored husband! Thanks for reading this long, long post. You deserve a snack!