Friday, September 25, 2009

Family Newsletter Friday: 25 September 2009


This has been a really “Smith” week. I have continued to prepare for the brick wall workshop tomorrow (wish me luck!). The presentation delivered at last night’s meeting of the Fairfax Genealogical Society by Sandra MacLean Clunies, CG, “Where is Great-Grandma Hiding? Finding Forgotten Females,” was a good preparation for the workshop. It more or less sounds as though I’ll have to dig up every document on all the children and every other known relative of my brick wall, Susan Elizabeth Smith (Bonner Brinlee).

This week I finished “matching” families in the 1870 and 1880 censuses and ended up with 45 families who appear on both censuses and 17 families who appear on only one census (although for three or four of these families I did find families who might be a match). Then I sorted them into categories based on how well they fit the profile information I have for Lizzie, coming up with 9 families in category 1 (“good fit”), 14 families in category 2 (“pretty good fit”), 19 families in category 3 (“not a very good fit”), and 20 families in category 4 (“poor fit”). Usually getting relegated to category 3 or 4 was due to information that showed up in the second census indicating something like Elizabeth Smith was the same as Matilda E. Smith or that an Elizabeth or Susan Smith from 1870 had probably died by 1880. Other “low category” information would be high property values (I don’t think Lizzie Smith came from well-off family), bad place of birth match (although not being born in Tennessee or not staying in Tennessee wouldn’t totally disqualify a candidate). Of course, the information in the censuses can be incorrect and/or I may have the wrong picture about some of Lizzie’s biographical data, so I don’t rule any families out. They remain in the database, but for now I probably won’t be doing as much to find out more about them as I will for families in category 1 or 2. This makes the task of finding more information on these families easier. I am hoping that I can narrow the 23 “good fit” families down as I find out more about them.

There are a couple of leads that look kind of promising. One is a family with a sister named Cordelia; Lizzie named her daughter Cordelia. This is also a family where the father died when the Lizzie in this family was young, so that could account for childhood poverty. The other lead is for a candidate for Lizzie’s first husband, whose last name may have been Bonner. I also sent off for a Social Security Application for one of Lizzie’s children that may provide reliable confirmation that her maiden name was Smith. (Two of her children's death certificates indicate that her maiden name was Smith.)


  1. Good luck!

    A lot of work but I love your four category method without dismissing any out of hand.

  2. Thanks, Apple - I got some good (and some surprising!) advice today that I'll write about next week. I figured I had to adopt that "4-category, no-dropouts" method just to avoid missing anything.