Brick Walls: Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents by Marian Pierre-Louis - free webinar now online
FamilyRoots Organizer System by Mary Hill - free webinar now online

To Do Lists and the Nathan Brown story continues

If only I knew then what I know now about using Legacy's To Do List.

In Marian Pierre-Louis' webinar yesterday, Brick Walls: Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents, she used a variety of indirect evidence to identify Nathan Brown's parents. Although, as she put it, "there was no smoking gun" to be completely certain, she put together a very strong case. Now I'm more excited than ever to try to find the missing piece of evidence to strengthen her argument.

Today while reviewing Nathan's Chronology, I noticed that I had not recorded any land transactions while he lived in Woodstock, Connecticut. Often, the initial purchase of land in a new area would state where the buyer lived previously. Wouldn't it be amazing if I found a land record where it listed him as "from Swansea, Massachusetts," the possible birth place Marian identified? If so, it would certainly tie the two locations together and solidify the case.

Next I reviewed Nathan's To Do List I had compiled in Legacy. I noticed that back in September 2000 I did search for him in the Woodstock land records. However, in the "Task Description" below, it appears that I was more interested in learning when he left Woodstock than when he initially arrived.


The "Results" section shows that I did find several Nathan Brown entries but none of the time period (pre-1791) when he would have come to Woodstock.


Ugh! Somewhere I should have recorded the timespan that I searched. Did I search from 1749 through 1867, or did I only search from 1800-1810? Genealogical best practices suggests that we always record what we searched for, how thorough our search was, and indicate any anomalies with the records. Do this even if you did not find anything in your search. You will save yourself hours of duplicate research if you are thorough in your use of Legacy's To Do List.

So, this weekend I'm off to the Mesa Family History Center (about a 60 minute drive) to "re"search these land records. And this time, I'll be sure to be thorough with recording my findings.


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I learned the hard way how important it is to record EXACTLY what you have searched and why and record all negative findings. I do use the To-Do list to keep track of everything I want to search but I not only record negative results there but also record the negative results in a narrative form under the research tab. When I am working on a particular person, it is easier for me to get the big picture if all of the research notes are in one place for me to review.

Great tip, Geoff. Thanks. I am finding out the hard way that not leaving a thorough research trail results in retreading old paths.

Geoff, watching the Webinar I am curious about the Nathan birth record that says the mother is Ruth instead of Rebecca. What I am wondering is about the apparent crossing out of Ruth on the record! Was that done on the original record to indicate the name was incorrect? Is there an addendum saying Ruth is actually Rebecca?

Hi Thomas,

I just double checked the image of the birth record and I see what you mean about it appearing like it is crossed out. I'm not sure it was intentionally crossed out but there's no way for me to know exactly. If the name had been intentionally crossed out I would have liked to have seen a different name written in but I don't see that. There is so much about this birth record that is not conclusive. I hope to do some further research so that I *can* conclusively say that it was an error. I'll have to have another look at the microfilm to see if there is an addendum as you mention. This isn't one as far as I am aware. Great questions! Thanks for asking them.

Marian Pierre-Louis

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