In this series, I am going to pick a somewhat random person who lived in the 20th Century from the FamilySearch.org Family Tree and show, step-by-step, the research needed to extend that person's family tree back several generations. Finding a person who has no apparent ancestors in the Family Tree is relatively easy for those who lived in or into the 20th Century. However, I am not able to use any of my own family lines because my direct lines all end back, at least, six generations. To clarify this project, I will not be reserving any of the people I discover for my own Temple List. I will simply leave the "green icons" on the Family Tree for that person's descendants to find and use for themselves. Please refrain from doing the temple work for people to whom you are not related.
Why am I doing this? For the past 15 years or so, I have been helping hundreds (thousands?) of people find their ancestors. I simply intend to document the process in detail with real examples so that you can see exactly how I find family lines. This past week, I helped one of the missionaries serving at the Maryland State Archives extend her family line by three generations. It took about two hours of research to do this. I simply want to show where those "green icons" come from. Since the FamilySearch.org Family Tree is entirely cooperative, I will simply assume that when I find a family that needs some research that I am helping that family. By the way, this is Part One of the series because I intend to do this over and over with different examples.
There is another reason why I am doing this. Because I constantly offer to help people find their ancestors and I get relatively few that take advantage of that offer. I need to spend some of my excess energy.
So, here I go. First, I will look around for a possible research project. After looking around for a short time, I found Frank Seldon Warren, K8P8-1B5 (b. 1876, d. 1951) who was married to my cousin Amelia Ventom DeFriez, KWVR-QCP. He has no parents in the Family Tree and a quick check showed no initial indication of duplicates. Of course, as I do a little more research, duplicate entries might show up. It will be interesting to see if he connects to anyone already in the Family Tree. Here is a screenshot of his entry.
Here are the sources already in the Family Tree.
The initial review shows that there are U.S. Census records for 1920, 1930, and 1940. The idea is to look at what is missing. If he was born in 1876, he should appear in the 1880, 1900, and 1910 censuses also. Let's see what I can find. I will first check on FamilySearch because it is the first website on the list and it is easy to attach the information from any records I find.
I find a California Death Index record that might be the same person. The death dates match, but the birth date is different.
For the time being, I will assume this is the same person since the birthdate is the same day and month but off by two years. I will attach the record and change the birthdate. I see that the record has his mother's maiden name. I will likely come back to this. Oh, I was looking for census records. But I never let that stop me from looking at anything else that turns up. Back to the search with the new information. By the way, the FindAGrave.com record also has a birthdate, but according to the Death record, the date is wrong. FindAGrave is not a primary source so I defer to the official death record.
The earliest listed Census record from 1920 shows him married to Millie Warren. I see from the record for his wife that here nickname was Millie. I take a side trip and clean up the entry for his wife to reflect her correct birth name and put Millie in as a nickname. I also delete the duplicate "Birth" names in her entry. Hmm. I seem to get easily sidetracked. I do find him as a possible lodger in Nevada in the 1910 Census in Caliente, Lincoln, Nevada and this agrees with the place where he was living in the other Census records, so I feel that this is probably the right person and add the record. Another quick look shows that Caliente never had more than about 5000 people and was founded in 1901. So the possibility of there being another Frank S Warren in the town seems slim.
All of the census records agree that he was born in California and his age matches the 10-year census interval. There is a legacy source that has his birth year probably wrong and a place. I don't put much confidence in these sources but they do help from time to time. There are a lot of Frank Warrens on FamilySearch, so it is time to change tactics. Remember the Death record had his mother's maiden name. So now, I will put that into a FamilySearch search. I find his World War I draft registration card. That gives us the name of his wife and shows that they were living in Caliente, Nevada.
The Draft Card also has his birthdate. Hmm. He says he was born in 1876. Looks like the Death record was wrong. So, I change it back. Then again, he could have lied about his age, but at 43 he was not in much danger of being drafted or at 45 either. Interestingly, the next draft card is also a Warren. This is not unusual for relatives to be listed at the same time for the draft. The name on the next card is William D. Warren and he lists his nearest relative as Mrs. Maggie L. Warren in Ursine, Eagle Valley, Nevada. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Ursine, Nevada.
Ursine is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Lincoln County, Nevada, United States. It is located in the foothills of the White Rock Mountains on Eagle Valley about two miles downstream from the Eagle Valley Reservoir and Spring Valley State Park. The population was 91 at the 2010 census.Well, now, in 1918 William was living in Ursine in Lincoln County. The county seat is Pioche, Nevada. Let's see who is in the 1920 U.S. Census for Ursine, Nevada. I will search in FamilySearch for Warrens in Ursine or Lincoln, County. Not too helpful. I will switch over to Ancestry.com and do the same search. I find Frank's Social Security Application and it has 1877 as his birth date. I am beginning to believe that he himself didn't know how old he was.
The 1920 U.S. Federal Census record we already had, shows him married to Millie or Amelia in Caliente, Lincoln, Nevada. So now we have another clue. A Waren family living in Ursine about 40 miles away. We still need to find Frank in an earlier census record.
Now we have a very interesting situation shown by the 1880 U.S. Federal Census Record for Spring Valley, Nevada where I find William Warren as a two year old. His father is listed as George B. Warren and his siblings are born in Utah and his was born in Arizona, which is also shown on his WW I Draft Registration Card.
The next entry is for a James Edwards married to Ellen and they have a son named Frank S. Edwards who is the right age to be Frank S. Warren and the record shows he was born in California. Could they be the same person with a changed last name? Spring Valley is part of what is now Las Vegas which was settled by pioneers from Utah. They apparently move to a rance near Ursine in subsequent census records. OK, now this is getting really strange. Here, I start checking on the two families. George B. Warren is married to Mary Ann Newman. Remember, the Death record for Frank? His mother is listed with name Newman. Here is the 1880 Census Record for reference.
Ellen Maria Newman's record shows that she immigrated to Utah and she is shown in the Utah Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database. Looks like these people all match up and I have found the missing husband for Ellen. There are a lot of Ellen Maria Newmans in England, by the way.
I searched for James and Ellen Edwards and so far the only place I found them was in this 1880 U.S. Federal Census record. I did find a J. Edwards in Nevada in the 1875 Nevada Census. In all the census records for Frank S. Warren, he lists his parents as being born in the United States. Here is my guess at this point. Franks parents died and he was "adopted" by his aunt Mary Ann Newman Warren. He did not know his parents well enough to remember them. What we have is the California Death Record for Frank with his mother's maiden name of Newman.
In order to take this matter further, I would need to have access to records on FamilySearch.org that have yet to be digitized and these records are only available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The records that might unravel this dilemma are the membership records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Well, with a random choice, this turned out to be a major research issue. Stay tuned as I take on another ramdom choice in the Family Tree.
With all the fabulous online tools now available, there is really no reason to ignore the benefit of doing the research. Be sure to add all the information you find in the records into the entries in the Family Tree. We do have one problem to resolve, it any of this is correct, then the mother's birthdate is wrong or something else is wrong. You will have to wait and see how this all works. If you can't resist jumping in and correcting everything, be my guest, I'm not related to these people except through the marriage of one cousin.