Using DNA to Break Down a Brick Wall

Using DNA to Break Down a Brick Wall


Back in July I was contacted by a distant cousin. He found me through a blog post I had written that had mentioned my 3rd great grandmother, Pleasant Ann Clawson. I was elated to receive his email. This was my first contact with another Clawson descendant. But I was feeling somewhat apprehensive as well. You see, Pleasant Ann Clawson was my second most stubborn brick wall. I wasn't sure what I'd be able to tell my new cousin.

I've been researching Pleasant Ann for about 12 years. She was born in 1823 in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. She died in 1902, four years before the start of the Pennsylvania death certificates, and took the secret of her parent's names with her.

My biggest problem, besides lack of records in early Pennsylvania, is that the Clawson family is very large! My strategy was to start with the very early censuses, find the heads of households and recreate the families. After that I tried tracking down land and probate records for the best male candidates. Nothing came of it.

My best clue to sorting out these Clawsons was the 1860 US Federal Census where Pleasant McClarren (her married name), age 30, was found right next door to James Clawson, age 35, and family. I spent my efforts trying to chase James Clawson's family tree but never figured out who his parents were either.

What was I going to say to my new cousin? I was still mulling over my response in January when MyHeritage came out with a chromosome browser for their dna results.  I took a much keener interest then and started to really dig deep into the tools provided with the dna. I found I could do a surname search and on a whim searched for Clawson. What did I find but a dna match that was a direct surname descendant of the Clawsons!

Before getting too excited I realized the match only had a tree for himself, his father and grandfather. I would not be deterred.  If searching in the 1800s wouldn't bring results then I would start with an unfinished tree that is proven to be tied to me through dna. And so I started researching someone else's tree!

Recreating the tree of a known dna match proved to be a much easier task.  Perhaps being descended from a male Clawson instead of a female Clawson made finding records easier. Without too much trouble I made it back to William Clawson (1815-1888) and who was very conveniently brother to James Clawson (abt. 1825-1890), the same James who lived next door to my Pleasant in 1860.

My philosophy about solving unknown parentage brick walls is that it is a two-step process. First you determine who the probable parents are and then you prove that you have the right parents. I used this exact same process with Geoff's Nathan Brown brick wall.

So far, because of this dna match, I have determined a likely candidate for the family of my Pleasant Ann Clawson - John Clawson and his wife Elizabeth Wincher (with sons William and James among other children).  A nice gaps exists in 1823 right where my Pleasant would fit into the birth order.

With step one finished let's hope it won't be too difficult a process proving that I have the right family!


Learn how Marian found the parents for Geoff's ancestor Nathan Brown in these two webinars in the Legacy library:

Part 1 - Brick Walls: Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents

Part 2 - Pointing Fingers at Ancestors' Siblings - Breaking Down Brick Walls with Collateral Research

Other Brick Wall webinars in the Legacy Library


Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.



Your Migration Secret Weapon - the New York State Census


Those of us with westward migrating ancestors know how difficult it can be to trace people from their destination to their point of origin and vice versa. Even harder is finding the short stops along the way.

Many genealogists have learned to use the United States Federal Census as a clue to migration. By looking at the birth location of children in a migrating family, we can often determine some of the stops a family made on their journey westward. The only challenge is that the Federal Census is only enumerated every 10 years. That's a big gap!

New York's Role in Migration

New York played a big role in the lives of migrating families. Families who originated in New England often passed through New York, often stopping there for a few years before moving on. New York residents as well joined the migration west heading to Ohio and beyond.

The Trouble with New York

The challenge for many researchers is that the trail goes cold in New York. Vital records for most towns in New York state didn't start until the 1870s or later. If you have New England ancestors traveling west this come as a cold shock when you're used to vital records going back to the 1600s. Researching in New York is frustrating to say the least.

Your New Secret Weapon

All is not lost! You were on the right track when you used the U.S. Federal Census. While we may not have the advantage of New York vital records we do have the New York State Census.

The New York State Census was taken for the years 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925. Not all counties in New York have extant records for all years but for 1855-1905 the coverage is very good
with the exception of a few counties.

Each of the census years asks for different information, of varying value to genealogists. It's the 1855, 1865 and 1875 censuses that I want to bring your attention to. These three censuses asked for the county of birth. If
your ancestors are making stops within New York before moving on, this information is invaluable in tracing their steps.

In addition, the three censuses indicate if a person owned land and the 1855 census mentions the “years resident in the town or city”.

An Example in Action

One of my "challenging" families is David Allen, his wife Mariah and their five kids. Between a common surname, transcription errors and migration I was fit to be tied tracking down this family.

Then I found them in the 1855 New York State Census. The family was living in Volney, Fulton City, Oswego County, New York. David was listed as being born Jefferson County, New York according to the 1855 census. His wife Mariah (no maiden name yet discovered) was also born in Jefferson County about 1823. Their first child Henry was born about 1844 also in Jefferson County.

The 1855 New York State Census showing the David Allen family. Please note the image has been altered to show the headers directly above the family listing.
The 1855 New York State Census showing the David Allen family. Please note the image has been altered to show the headers directly above the family listing.

The next child, Elizabeth, only one year younger that Henry, was born in Lewis County. A second daughter, Eleanor, was also born in Lewis County about 1849. The last child, Charles, only 11 months old was born in Oswego County.

This tells me I can place the family in Jefferson County, New York at least up until 1844. They are in Lewis County from about 1845 to no later than 1854. They arrive in Oswego County in time for Charles’ birth around 1854.

But there’s another clue. Column 13 – “Years resident in this city or town” – shows that the Allens have been in Volney, Fulton City for 2 years thus changing their likely arrival date in Oswego County to 1853. Column 20 – “Owners of land” – indicates that the Allen family did not own any land.

This one census helped to clear up where the family started and where they stopped along the way in New York on the travel west. It gave me new locations to search for new records. By 1860 the family had moved on the Manlius, LaSalle County, Illinois.

If your family traveled west during the mid-nineteenth century be sure to check the 1855, 1865 and 1875 New York State censuses (available on to find the clues to solving their migration mysteries.

Unfortunately the Allen family remains a bit of a mystery for me. In the 1880 US Federal Census I find a David Allen, Maria Allen and son Charles Allen of appropriate ages in Faribault, Rice County, Minnesota. But I also find in a different 1880 census a John Slocumb, Elizabeth Slocumb and a widowed Maria Allen living in Port Huron, St. Clair County, Michigan. A Michigan marriage record indicates that a Libbie Maria Allen born in Lewis County, New York married John Slocumb in 1877. It will take a bit more digging to determine which is my Allen family!

For help researching your New York ancestors see our New York series by expert Jane Wilcox in the Legacy library!


Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also a speaker, writer and the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.



A Simple Tip to Bust Genealogy Brick Walls

A Simple Tip to Bust Genealogy Brick Walls

I was recently reminded of a simple yet effective tip for bringing down brick walls.

Yesterday one of my DNA matches contacted me suggesting that we might be connected through the Bair family. That got my attention because the Bairs are one of my brick walls.

Before I go any further, let me tell you that I am an ancestral DNA addict! Not because I think that there is a magic DNA bullet that is going to bring down my brick walls, rather because it might provide the simplest hint that I hadn't seen before. That hint, combined with good old fashioned genealogy research is what solves mysteries.

My new cousin shared her online Ancestry tree with me so that I could see where we might connect. She had already taken a look at my tree. She pointed out that "My Bair's were in Tuscarawas Co., OH, for a time, and Anna Bonfield that you have in your tree died in Tuscarawas Co." She continued, "I would think based on shared DNA our match would be a good ways back, so we just mightn't find it, but it still would be interesting to see if your Bair's relate to the Tuscarawas Bair's."

Anna Bonfield is not a Bair so at first I discounted that. Too hasty, of course! Anna is married to a Bair - my third great grandfather, Jesse Bair.

I decided to look at the information I had on Jesse Bair. Jesse Bair was born 11 Nov 1814 in Adams County, Pennsylvania. Further scanning of his life showed locations such as Stark County, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; and St. Clair, Illinois. Jesse's adult life is pretty clear to me but his parents and roots in Pennsylvania are a mystery.

His wife's death in Tuscarawas, Ohio was nagging at me.

So I went to my Legacy database and did a search for all individuals whose death place or birth place contained Tuscarawas. I didn't bother with listing towns or a state because Tuscarawas is such a unique name. I then selected Create List. 

Searching Legacy Family Tree for individuals in Tuscarawas County

The results brought up, as expected, Anna Bonfield, but also her son James K.P. Bair. A quick peek at his profile showed that he was born in Dover, Tuscarawas, Ohio. I was so focused on my ancestors that I forgot to look at collateral relatives! James is the brother of my second great grandmother, Anna Elizabeth Bair (1850-1881). James' birth places my ancestors right in the same location as the ancestors  of my new distant cousin. Her Jonas Bair married and raised children in Tuscarawas, Ohio for twenty years before heading further west. It places him in the town of Dover exactly at the time my Jesse Bair was there.

James K.P. Bair was born in Tuscarawas County Ohio.
Surprise! James K.P. Bair was born in Tuscarawas County Ohio.

What was my big mistake when researching my Bair brick wall? Not checking each location for other families of the same name!

A quick search in the 1850 census for Tuscarawas County, Ohio revealed over 150 Bairs! I'm only concerned with the oldest generation from Pennsylvania so I narrowed down my search to those born in Pennsylvania.  That brought 26 Bairs to my attention ranging in birth dates from 1791 to 1828. That date range means there's potential that Jesse's father could be hiding in plain sight in Tuscarawas County!

I haven't brought down my brick wall yet. My next task is good old fashioned genealogy research. I need to recreate the Bair families in Tuscarawas County. Yes, it will be a lot of work but if it helps me find parents or siblings for Jesse Bair then it will be worth it!

For more brick wall tips check out "Ten Brick Wall Tips for Beginners" in the Legacy library.


Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also a speaker, writer and the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.


Where is my ancestor hiding in that big database?

Often times the large database providers like FamilySearch, Ancestry and FindMyPast will release a really big database that encompasses an entire state or maybe even a whole country. The dates of the database look promising - perhaps you'll see 1610-1950.  You think "Perfect, my ancestor should be in there!"  

But then you search and you don't find them.  What on earth is going on?

There are two issues at play.

First the date range of the database. Let's take a look at the Ancestry database "Rhode Island, Wills and Probate Records, 1582-1932" as an example. You think to yourself, and rightly so, "But Rhode Island didn't exist in 1582!"

From what I understand (and please correct me if I'm wrong) is that it is a standard practice of archivists to title or name a date range so that it encompasses the entire date range found in a record set rather than the logical and expected date range of the jurisdiction (in this case Rhode Island). So for instance, if a record from London, England from 1582 gets recorded in the Rhode Island probate records in 1685 then it is included as part of the date range of the database record set.

Don't worry about the date range of the database. That's actually the smaller of the two issues.

The second issue, and this is the really important one, is that big databases are really made up of a bunch of smaller databases. You will encounter this in most state databases especially when the individual counties have started recording at different times.

Let's take a look at the "Rhode Island, Wills and Probate Records, 1582-1932" database again. If you go straight to the Search box and type in your ancestor's name you may be frustrated when they don't turn up in the results.

A better approach is to "browse" the database information before using the search feature. 

You'll find the browse feature on the main page of the database on the right hand side. It says "Browse this collection."

Rhode Island, Wills and Probate Records, 1582-1932

Click on the arrow to the right of the word "Choose" and you will  find a county list. Select the county that your ancestor lived in.

What you'll soon discover is that there are different date ranges for each county. See these examples for Bristol County, Rhode Island and Providence County, Rhode Island.

Bristol County Rhode Island Probate records on
Bristol County Rhode Island Probate records on
Providence County Rhode Island Probate records on
Providence County Rhode Island Probate records on

By determining the date range for your target county through the browse feature you'll be able to figure out in advance whether your ancestor is likely to be included in the database. Knowing that your ancestor's 1685 will is not included in the Bristol County database will save you the frustration of many futile searches.

It's important to keep in mind that there are at least two considerations impacting the date range of any given county.

When you search databases in any of the original colonies you have to consider that counties were formed, divided and re-formed over time. One county may have been formed in the 1600s and another in the 1800s. You really need to understand when counties were formed to know where to find the records you were looking for.

For instance, Norfolk County, Massachusetts was founded in 1793. Records from 1793 to the present will be found in Norfolk County. Records before 1793 will be found in Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

The other consideration is that regardless of when a county was formed they may have started recording records at different times from other counties in the same state. What's even worse is it may vary from town to town. 

You can use a tool such as the Research Guidance feature in Legacy Family Tree software as well as research guides such as the FamilySearch Wiki to find out what records were created when for the place where your ancestor lived.

The next time you use a large online database don't get frustrated when your ancestor goes missing! Take charge by understanding specifically what records are included in the database for your specific county. 

For more research strategies from Marian Pierre-Louis see her classes in the Legacy Webinar Library.

Good luck with your research!



For Your Genealogy Toolbox: Social Searcher

Need a time-saver for chasing distant relatives? Here's a social media tool that making tracking folks down a little quicker!

This week on Webinar Wednesday, Lisa Louise Cooke presented "Tap Into Your Inner Private Eye - 9 Strategies for Finding Living Relatives."  (Catch the free replay while you can!) This webinar discussed the many ways you can track down living people, particularly distant cousins who may have information about your ancestors. Lisa discussed many online tools one of which was called Social Searcher.

According to their website, Social Searcher "allows [people] to search for content in social networks in real-time and provides deep analytics data. Users can search without logging in for publicly posted information on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Flickr, Dailymotion and Vimeo. Free users can also save their searches and set up email alerts."Social Searcher

In essence this is a time-saver tool. Instead of searching a number of social media sites individually you can use Social Searcher to search all of them at one time.

I gave it a try to see what it could do. In order to protect the privacy of others, I'll use myself as an example.  I started by first typing in my name - Marian Pierre-Louis. To be honest, that didn't work out very well. None of the results returned related to me in any way. You can see in the image below the kind of poor results I got. (Click image to enlarge.)

Social Searcher


However, when I put my name in quotations - "Marian Pierre-Louis" - the results improve greatly. The phrase now appears in the exact phrase box on the left rather than the keywords box.  All of the results related to me. When scrolling down the results you see social media posts that I've shared or interacted with on Google+, YouTube and Twitter.

Social Searcher


Not everyone is going to have as unique a name as I have.  What do you do if distant cousin is named John Smith?  Try searching for the name in quotations plus additional word(s) such as a location, occupation or school.  I tried searching for my name plus the word genealogy. 

This time, instead of typing into the white search box I typed directly into the yellow search parameters boxes on the left side of the screen. I typed genealogy into the keywords box and Marian Pierre-Louis into exact phrase box beneath it.  Then I used the orange search box at the bottom.  The white search box was then updated with genealogy OR "Marian Pierre-Louis." That's not exactly what I was hoping for.

I manually changed the white search box to genealogy AND "Marian Pierre-Louis."  I tried variations on the search terms. Social Search seems to return the best results when you put the most important term first. So changing my search to "Marian Pierre-Louis" AND genealogy  gave better results. You'll have to do some experimenting to get the best results for your searches.

Social searcher


Click on the Advanced options header midway down the screen on the left. This will provide new options such as post types (links, photo, status or video), language and social media sites.

Social Searcher


Social Searcher may take a little experimenting to get your searches right but it is definitely a time saver if you want to search for distant cousins online across multiple social platforms.  Keep in mind that the results only return publicly accessible social media posts and interactions. You'll have to return to more traditional methods if it appears that your distant cousin doesn't have an online presence.

Give Social Searcher a try and have fun!


Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.



The Top 10 Genealogy Classes for November 2015

We've tallied the numbers and made a list of the Top 10 Legacy Family Tree Webinar classes for November 2015! Are your favorite topics or instructors among the list?  Need something new to learn? Use the list to get inspired!

The Top 10 Legacy Classes for November 2015

Each month thousands of Legacy Family Tree Webinar subscribers head for the library to learn new skills and techniques to help improve their genealogy research. Among the now-283 genealogy classes in the library, these were the most frequently played during the month of November 2015.  They aren't necessarily the newest classes but rather the topics that were sought out by our members.

Have you seen any of these classes? Are these among your favorites too? Some of these classes (and topics) might be new to you! Get inspired to learn more and make your genealogy journey more fun!

The Top 10 for November 2015

  1. Complex Evidence - What is It? How Does it Work? And Why Does it Matter? by Warren Bittner

  2. Organizing Your Genetic Genealogy by Diahan Southard

  3. Colonial Immigration - The English Pioneers of Early America by Beth Foulk

  4. Researching with Karen 3! by Karen Clifford

  5. Grand Records of the Grand Army of the Republic (BONUS webinar for subscribers) by Ruby Coleman

  6. Genealogy 101, a 3-Session Course in Beginning Genealogy - Part 1 by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen

  7. Spreadsheets 201 - Excel-lent Examples (BONUS webinar for subscribers) by Mary Kircher Roddy

  8. Using Evernote for Genealogy by Lisa Louise Cooke

  9. I Had My DNA Tested - Now What? by Ugo Perego

  10. Get Organized Using the FamilyRoots Organizer Color-Coding System by Mary Hill

The classes in the Legacy Family Tree Webinar library are a members-only benefit. Not a member? Become one! Or watch the recording of the latest live class which is always available for free for a limited time!




Virtually Walking in Your Ancestors' Footsteps


As genealogists we know a lot about our ancestors. But what do we really know about where they lived? Nowadays, thanks to technology, we are positioned to not only learn about where they lived but to actually walk in their footsteps.

Recently, my family started vacationing on an island called Martha's Vineyard. After our vacation week was over I was afraid that I would forget how to navigate all the roads before our return the next year.  When I got home a friend pointed me to some Facebook pages dedicated to Martha's Vineyard. These were mostly featuring photographs but I eagerly followed them, and one in particular called Vineyard Colors. The page very successfully kept my memories of Martha's Vineyard alive and fresh. I didn't have to worry about forgetting about the island, even though I admit it didn't help me much with navigation. As time went by I sought out other sources about Martha's Vineyard on sites beyond Facebook - I checked Instagram, Twitter and Flickr.

As time passed I realized not only could I use this strategy for my vacation memories but it would also work well for genealogy!

Recently, I have been focused on my great grandmother, Caroline Nunge who arrived in America through Ellis Island in 1893. Unlike most of my relatives I knew exactly where she came from - a small town in Alsace-Lorraine called Baerenthal which is now located in France near the German border. My German speaking ancestor settled in Pittsburgh among other German speaking immigrants.


I wanted to know more about this place called Baerenthal where my ancestors had lived. I first checked on Instagram which is a great photo sharing app for mobile devices. You need to set up an account to really make use of this tool but the app is free to download. There are couple ways to search on Instagram. When searching for a place you can either search for it as a keyword or as a location.  They keyword search will bring up any results where people have tagged a post with #Baerenthal. The location search will bring up any posts tagged with a location of Baerenthal. What I'm looking for are mostly scenic photos that will give me a sense what the town looks like. I will ignore all the posts of teenagers and other non-related items. If I find photos of interest I will check who posted them. If they posted lots of scenic shots to their account then I will follow them in hopes of finding more in the future and so my journey begins. The key thing is to find active accounts which you can continue to follow and learn more about your target location.

Virtually Walking in Your Ancestors' Footsteps
On the left is the search screen in Instagram. On the right are the search results.


Flickr is a photo sharing site that is available both as an app on mobile devices and as a website. Flickr is a favorite among photographs and has many thousands of photographs. It is easier to search than Instagram when you want to go deep into a topic. Simply type your place name into the search box and wait a moment for the results. My search for Baerenthal returned over 800 photos! Since Flickr is geared toward more serious photographers I'm less likely to find "selfies" and other types of un-related photos.

Search results on Flickr
Search results on Flickr

Just like on Instagram, photos are posted by users and tagged and if you find something that you like you can follow the account of the photographer. In this particular case I found an account for Moselle Tourism. Moselle is the region (called a Department in France) where Baerenthal is located. This is account is as perfect as I'm going to find when it comes to targeting Baerenthal on Flickr so I will definitely follow it. When I follow the account it shows me future photos in my main feed.

Unlike Instragram, Flickr makes use of "albums" so if you find one photo you like you can click on the link to its album and likely find many more photos on the same topic.

In addition to Moselle Tourism, I also found a wonderful photographer named Raymond Schaeffer who had an album of 27 beautiful photos just of Baerenthal.

Google Street View

Back in 2004 my Uncle Bob visited Baerenthal in an attempt to find traces of our ancestors. When he returned he shared some of the photos that he took. Here is a photo of the the church located in the tiny village. One of the really fun things you can do to follow in your ancestors's foot steps is to use Google Street View. I use this mostly for looking up locations in the United States but it works well in other parts of the world too. I simple typed Baerenthal, France into Google Maps and it brought me to the town. I clicked on what I believed to be the town center and zoomed in.  I then clicked on the little yellow person found in the lower right corner of Google Maps and dragged that onto a street. That brought me into street view. You can then travel the roads as if you were there in person.

Google Maps Street View
Drag the little yellow person icon on a road for street view.

Here's an image that my uncle took during his visit in 2004.

Baerenthal, Moseelle, Lorraine, France. 2004. Photo by Robert F. Walleck

And here's a view of the same location using Google Maps.

Baerenthal, France
Church in Baerenthal, France

It's a slightly different angle but the church looks much the same as when my uncle visited over ten years ago. The advantage with Google Maps street view is that you can explain the surrounding area - you're not limited to a single image from a camera.

Exploring your ancestral village can be a lot of fun using Instragram, Flickr and Google Maps. These are just three tools of many that are available that can help you become acquainted with your homeland. Try them out and see what you discover. Then come back here and share other ways that you have stepped virtually in your ancestors' foots steps.


Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.



Who are you honoring today?

In the United States we are celebrating Veterans Day, today November 11th.  On this same day the British are celebrating Armistice Day which is also celebrated in France, Belgium and New Zealand. It's a little confusing to me, maybe someone from England can explain, November 11th is also Remembrance Day around the Commonwealth of the United Kingdom. Either way,  nations around the world are using this date to honor those who have served in the military.

Sometimes folks in the United States regard Veterans Day and Memorial Day (held in May) similarly. In fact, each has a different very specific purpose. Veterans Day honors all those who have served in United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day, on the other hand, only honors those who gave their lives in service to their country.

Who are you honoring today?

Most of my ancestors who served in the military were active during the Revolutionary War. I have about seven ancestors that helped to bring about independence from England. If I look to more recent times, however, my father and all of my uncles on both my mother's and father's sides of the family served in the military. My father served as a peacetime naval officer not long after World War II.

The most notable military person in my family, though I can't really claim him because he's not a direct relation (he's my first cousin twice removed) is Submarine Commander, Samuel Dealey. He was the nephew of my great grandfather, James Quayle Dealey. Sam lost his life on August 24, 1944 when he went down with his submarine off of Luzon, Philippines. He received the Medal of Honor and several other recognitions of valor.

Sam is also the only serviceman that I know of in my family that gave his life for his country. All of my uncles and my Revolutionary War ancestors made it home to their families.

No matter where you are in the world today take a moment to think of all the service men and women who have impacted your life.

Submarine Commander, Samuel D. Dealey
Submarine Commander, Samuel D. Dealey

Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.



Exploring My Ohio Roots

The recent release of seven Ohio webinars on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars site has me taking another look at my Ohio roots. I have four generations of Ohio relatives starting with the arrival of David Silver in the early 1800s. I've often wondered what tempted my ancestors to leave Maryland and head inland to Ohio.

Ohio is known as one of the most important states genealogically speaking because of its role as a migration state. Many people settled there or passed through on their way further west.

My Silvers followed an unexpected, at least to me, route in America. They arrived in the 1600s from Scotland and settled in New Jersey. Then the family moved to Harford County, Maryland in the years before the American Revolution. Finally, two sons, David and Amos moved to Ohio by 1809.

My Ohio ancestors were farmers, and while I've been able to find out basic information about them such birth and death dates and census enumerations they have been somewhat elusive to me. I'm very lucky that a book was published called Our Silver Heritage by Benjamin Silver. It does fill in dates and spouses as well as children for the various lines. Otherwise the information on my line is fairly scarce.

One of the most interesting and revealing documents that I was able to find about my Ohio ancestors was a 1850 US Census non-population schedule (agricultural) for Alpheus B. [listed as A.B.] Silver, son of David.  There are 41 entries of names on the page where he is listed and they read as who's who of the Silver family across 4 generations. I see the surnames for the wives in my Ohio Silvers - Kimmel, Barnes, Bair and Binkley. I can imagine how neighbors grew up together and married. It also makes me wonder how many of the other surnames on the page are also family members that I haven't been able to connect yet. The Ohio wives have been particularly tricky to trace.

Alpheus B. Silver
1850 non-populations schedule showing Alpheus B. [A.B.] Silver, courtesy of

In addition to names, the non-population census was revealing in other ways. Alpheus Silver was the second most prosperous farmer on the page with a farm cash value of $3500 in 1850. He had $203 worth of livestock and he was growing wheat, Indian corn, buckwheat and oats. He collected 130 pounds of wool from his sheep and made 300 pounds of butter. He also had an orchard and manufactured hay. I can almost imagine his farm and the amount of labor it would have taken to accomplish all that work.

Regrettably I came up empty when searching for newspaper records.

With the newly released Ohio webinars from Legacy, I now have more resources at my fingertips. These presentations cover probate and court records which I haven't looked into yet. I still have quite a ways to go!

How much success have you had with your Ohio ancestors? How many different types of records have you been able to find?

Largest Collection of online Ohio educational webinars released

Ohio webinars

Do you have Ohio ancestors? Not sure where to look for land records or whether your ancestor received a bounty land grant? Need help researching wills and estates or other types of court records? Family Tree Webinars is pleased to announce a new series of educational genealogy webinars covering Ohio genealogy in-depth.

In an unprecedented move Legacy Family Tree Webinars is releasing seven brand new webinars on Ohio to help genealogists researching their Ohio roots. In combination with the overview webinar, Researching Your Ohio Ancestors, already in the library, Legacy now has a total of eight Ohio-specific webinars. This provides the most comprehensive on-demand Ohio genealogical education in digital format.

The webinars start with an overview of settlement in Ohio, continue on with the Great Land Experiment and then dig into detail with individual webinars on probate court, early wills and estates, courthouse records, the Recorder's office and the Common Pleas Court.

JanaSloanBroglin-144x144This special bonus series, a benefit of membership, is presented by Certified Genealogist Jana Sloan Broglin, a native of Ohio with over 35 years research experience. In 2011 Jana became a Fellow of the Ohio Genealogical Society. She is also a past director for the Federation of Genealogical Societies. Jana helps you dig deep into your Ohio roots providing detailed information on land and court records.

Webinar subscribers can choose from these new topics:

  1. America's Expansion: The Ohio Country 1783-1812
  2. Ohio: The Great Land Experiment
  3. Ohio's Probate Court
  4. Early Ohio Wills and Estates
  5. Unusual Ohio Courthouse Records
  6. Ohio's Recorders' Office
  7. Ohio's Common Pleas Court

If you are new to Ohio research be sure to also check out Researching Your Ohio Ancestors in the Legacy Webinar library.

Watch the Webinars!

America's Expansion: The Ohio Country 1783-1812


_WatchVideo _WatchPreview

 Ohio: The Great Land Experiment


_WatchVideo _WatchPreview

Ohio's Probate Court


_WatchVideo _WatchPreview

Early Ohio Wills and Estates


_WatchVideo _WatchPreview

Unusual Ohio Courthouse Records


_WatchVideo _WatchPreview

Ohio's Recorders' Office


_WatchVideo _WatchPreview

Ohio's Common Pleas Court


_WatchVideo _WatchPreview

Not a member yet?

Legacy Family Tree Webinars provides genealogy education where-you-are through live and recorded online webinars and videos. Learn from the best instructors in genealogy including Thomas MacEntee, Judy Russell, J. Mark Lowe, Lisa Louise Cooke, Megan Smolenyak, Tom Jones, and many more. Learn at your convenience. On-demand classes are available 24 hours a day! All you need is a computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.

Subscribe today and get access to this BONUS members-only webinar AND all of this:

  • All 274 classes in the library (405 hours of quality genealogy education)
  • 1,187 pages of instructors' handouts
  • Chat logs from the live webinars
  • Additional 5% off anything at
  • Chance for a bonus subscribers-only door prize during each live webinar
  • Additional members-only webinars

It's just $49.95/year or $9.95/month.

Click here to subscribe.

Free Webinars

Our public live webinars are all free. Click here to see what's on the schedule.