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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Building a Family Tree: An Example on -- Project Six

This post is another in the unending series of Projects I am doing to research different people in the Family Tree. See the comment at the end of this post for a further explanation of the Projects. 

This person is supposed to be the husband of one of my cousins. The only source for this person listed in the Family Tree is a "Legacy" source that cites "published information." In starting out with this type of entry, you cannot rely on even the name being accurate. Here is what is shown for the family information.

Since the name "Thomas Gray" is fairly common, I decided to begin with his wife. Here is how I am related to her.

She has five sources listed including two England and Wales Census years. But she is shown as being 18 years old living with her parents in the 1901 England and Wales Census. It also appears that the records were attached by my daughter Melinda Tanner Bowers and so I am confident that the research has been well done.

Here, once again, we get into the issue of privacy laws. As I have noted before, the England and Wales Census records for 1921 will not be released until 2022. So we have four more years to wait. But by looking at the information for Beatrice Anne Clarke, I see that she was apparently married twice. Her first husband died in 1919.

Is there any hope? What is more pertinent is whether or not there is any reason for me to do the research for this person at this time? Since this is Beatrice Annie Clarke's second marriage and her first husband died in 1919, there is really nothing here to indicate when this second marriage took place. In fact, she could have married the second time almost anytime up until she died, but even those dates are missing. However, Beatrice and her two children were all born in Essex. So let's take a look and see what the chances are for finding a Thomas Gray in Essex. I will look in There are well over a million records for the Gray surname in the database, 1,338,744 to be exact and 55,263 of those live in Essex. By refining the search to add a given name and an approximate birthdate, I get the following:

Hmm. Not much of a chance to find this person. I looked through every one of the marriages listed in the time period they could have been performed and did not find a marriage record. I started over and searched for Beatrice rather than Thomas Gray. I did find a marriage record for Beatrice and her first husband, Samuel Robert Harmer. I changed the marriage date to reflect the record.

I searched every listing of marriages for Beatrice during the possible time periods and did not find a marriage record to Thomas Gray. I did find one unusual record on

This record shows an Annie Harmer (Clarke) working as a domestic servant in Windemere Crescent, Eastbourne, Sussex, England. It has the note that she is married and 45 years old. The birthdate does not agree with what is in the sources on the Family Tree.

Where do I go with this? Well, this research goes into the Family Tree and awaits the passage of time to provide additional information.

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

In this project, I started out by picking a somewhat random person from my ancestors' descendants who lived in the 20th Century from the Family Tree and to hopefully 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.

Now, after I got going doing the research, I got a couple of requests to research some people further back in time. These turned out to be old, established "end-of-line" situations. Since my original idea was to demonstrate finding people, I started with easier challenges. But in any event,  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 independent of the time frame, 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.

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 Project Five 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.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you and I do appreciate all your ideas and hints. I love the detailed approach to your research. Keep up the good work!