Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Building a Family Tree: An Example on -- Project Four, Part One

I received the following comment with this suggestion for a project.
Her name is Clara Henry. Her FamilySearch number is KWJT-6W7. I have a father's name because it was on her marriage record. Someone added in a grandfather, but I don't know if it's correct.I don't even know for sure if her father is correct.
The person is shown above in the screenshot from the Family Tree. It is important to see what information is already available and make a determination of the reliability of what is entered in the Family Tree. The birthplace is recorded as "Michigan, United States or Indiana, United States." This may be the "best guess" based on the available information but by listing the birthplace in this way, the Family Tree program cannot look for Record Hints and the entry cannot be used to do direct searches in the available Partner Programs. There are quite a few sources listed, but many of these are duplicates.

The first order of business is to make a first pass at standardizing as many of the entries as possible. Since the birthplace is apparently unknown, that information should be put in a note or in the other information section. The most complete information about the marriage is in one of the sources listed.

There is from an Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 for Lewis Collins in 1885 that shows his wife Clara born in Michigan, so that is what should be in the entry. We should always try putting in the information contained in the sources before guessing.

Interestingly, there is also an Oklahoma, Territorial Census, 1890 and 1907 for Lewis Collins with a wife named Clara in 1890. So, what we know from the sources is that Lewis is from Wisconsin, Clara is from Michigan and they got married in Iowa and then moved to Oklahoma. The entries in the Family Tree should reflect these dates and places with standardized entries. By the way, the entry contains a very specific death date and place from But there are no other documents detailing her death. The entry states that she was buried in the Osawatomie State Hospital Burial Ground. This suggests that she was a patient in the State Hospital and that there might be some Kansas records.

After making the changes to the entries to conform with the sources, it is time to take a look and see if any of the Partner programs have any more information. Fortunately, we have some interesting details, Clara's burial in the Osawatomie State Hospital Burial Ground, Osawatomie, Miami, Kansas, United States and a tradition of mental illness.

At this point, I might mention the fact that I began this series with the idea to demonstrate research methodology starting with people who lived at least part of their lives in the 20th Century. It seems that I am now working on two "end-of-line" serious, long-term research issues. Some of these issues are very "long-term" and are only resolved after years of very systematic and careful research which usually ends up onsite. We will have to see what happens as I get further into these two very interesting and challenging issues.

Back to Clara Henry/Collins.

I decided to check out the Osawatomie County connection and I found a "Lizzie Henry" of about the right age working at the Osawatomie Insane Asylum in the 1880 U.S. Census.

1880 United States Federal Census for Lizzie Henry

This Lizzie Henry may or may not be a connection, but as they say, "the plot thickens." Most of the references in Census records to Clara's birth say she was born in Michigan. I did some more research and found a Clara Henry with adopted parents at the right time. I also looked into the existence of patient records at the Osawatomie Asylum where she is buried. Those records are held by the Kansas Historical Society. There are a lot of leads on this Project and it will continue in Part Two as I find more information. Thanks to the commentator for her active involvement in this process.

Explanation of how this project began and why I am pursuing it.

In this project, I am looking at a person from the Family Tree suggested by a commentator to this blog and show, step-by-step, the research needed to extend that person's family tree back several 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. I simply want to show where those "green icons" come from. Since the 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.

I may or may not find new people to add to the FamilyTree. Since the families I choose are in an "end-of-line" sort of situation, there is no guarantee that I will be any more successful than the average user of the Family Tree in finding additional family members. In any event, I hope that my efforts as recorded will help either the family members or others to find more information about their ancestral families and relatives.

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.


  1. Would you like to us Hoyt Milton Short L2RB-M6M and Janet Yvonne Dent M8VZ-SLP as examples? They were both born in the 20th century and do not currently have ancestors in the FamilySearch Family Tree. These are the family of a ward members whom I have been helping as a temple and family history consultant. She has given permission for you to use these 2 people as examples on your blog if you would like to and would love to have the help.

    1. Sure, I'll put it in my list. It may take me a while, but I will get started on it as soon as possible.

    2. Wonderful, she is happy to have your help.