Honestly, I have never really had any “formal” genealogy research plans before. I might have had a specific person or family that I was hooked on at the time and my “plan” was to find out anything and everything I can about them, but no real plans. It is an exciting way to do genealogy, but maybe not the best way.
I have followed SO many rabbit holes, because of this. It has honestly helped me, however, discover some amazing tidbits I would not have even known to search for… so yes, I will still do this from time to time. My ADD might have something to do with this, too, but whatever… That’s just me.
I have been listening to a lot of older episodes by Lisa Louise Cooke on the “Family Tree Magazine Podcast” lately. I listen via Castbox on my Android phone. It’s a free app that I most often listen to through my Sylvania Bluetooth FM Audio Transmitter in my van. It transmits from my phone through the speaker system in the van. It’s a great and inexpensive way to be a bit more high-tech in a lower-tech vehicle; not to mention hands-free.
Lisa Louise Cooke and her show have convinced me that a “real” plan can do wonders for your research. She also has gotten me totally hooked on using Evernote (especially) for genealogy research. Evernote is the best thing I have discovered in a long while.
So, what are my research plans?
I love variety… maybe a bit too much…lol (see above). So, I cannot narrow my current plan down to just one person or family (or even just one part of their existence…). There are a few really important people I want to work on specifically right now, though. They are from all over my family tree, as well. They include (in no particular order): Lemuel Issac TANNER, John NORRIS, Sarah Elizabeth Jasmine Carter MEREDITH SMITH, Mary “Polly” BOONE? COUCH, and David THALER/THAYLER.
Lemuel Isaac TANNER
Lem was my great-grandfather on my biological father’s side. He was the father of Herbert Woodrow TANNER (19 Apr 1918 – 25 Oct 2002) who was the father of Jerry Lem TANNER (17 Nov 1942 – 7 Aug 2003) who was my biological father I discovered in 2018 through DNA.
What makes Lem TANNER so interesting to me right now?
Lem was shot and killed over land or water rights on his own land (and there was A LOT of it) in 1924 in New Mexico in front of his 4 or 5 year old daughter. His killer was Dempson LEWIS. Dempson claimed that it was in self-defense even though at least two parts of Lem’s family insist that he was shot in the back. Dempson had his brother as a witness and the only other witness was Lem’s very young daughter.
Here are my questions I want to get answered:
- Was he shot in the back? Can I find a death certificate that shows this or court records? The newspaper articles I have found just keep saying it was unfortunate and in self-defense. Evidently, the LEWIS family was rather large (and maybe important) in the area at the time. I would love to find court records; especially if statements were recorded.
- I want to know more about his killer Dempson LEWIS. Did he later marry Lem’s widow (as my father believed)? If so, is he the one that lost all of Lem’s land and left his widow totally broke (so she could barely get herself and her children back to Texas or Oklahoma)? There are also murmurings that Dempson was actually related to Lem’s first wife. If so, how and did this have anything to do with Lem’s murder? Did Dempson get into any real trouble at all or not?
- I want to look for more newspaper articles about Lem, his widow Virginia, and even Dempson.
- How many times did Virginia get married (3 or 4)? Who (and when) were all of her husbands?
- What’s the deal with Lem marrying his sister’s husband’s niece? Did they all know each other for a long time or something?
- Can I find documents that say how much land Lem owned (and where)? It was supposed to be all the land you can see in all directions from up on some peak.
- Was his widow always extremely mean? Or did the hard times in her life make her that way? This is honestly something I truly want to know. The rest of the McBRIDE family seemed to be loving and family-oriented. The McBRIDE/TANNER DNA cousins I have been in contact with after doing the DNA tests, did not even know what had happened to Virginia “Jennie” Ethel McBride (just had her name and birth information) until I found out and told them that she married their (so many greats-) grandmother Emma Carrie TANNER McBRIDE’s brother. Did the family even back then distance themselves from her on purpose and therefore nobody knew what became of her? Maybe. I have heard from a few corners of the family how she was SO off-the-charts mean! Even to the extent that a short story and soon to be a novel are loosely based on one of her daughters with her treatment from her front-and-center and grandchildren’s main memories are all about how mean she was. SO glad that I never met her!
John NORRIS is potentially my 11th great-grandfather (1617 England to 1667 Suffolk, New York). John would be on my newly discovered biological father’s side through my father’s mom, Clara Odell HOLLAND (6 Aug 1920 Erick, Oklahoma to 23 Oct 1984 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma). Abbie NORRIS (below) was Clara’s great-grandmother.
- Can I find documentation that links Mary Abigail “Abbie” NORRIS (my 3rd great-grandmother Apr 1848 – 3 Oct 1917) to who I think is her father, John Hovering NORRIS (1795 or 1800 – 1870)? If so, I think the rest of the path can be documented connecting me directly to John NORRIS. Why is this important? Because that would link a very good friend of mine to me genetically! We think we are something like 9th cousins once removed or 10th cousins once removed. If so, we won’t simply be “just like family” but be actual family. ❤
- Are there two John Norris’s who were preachers in the area at that time? Or was it the same man with slightly varying dates.
- John NORRIS (at least whomever is the main one there…see above) was evidently important in some fashion during the Salem Witch Trials. I saw something about him being “loyal”. Loyal to which side? What all did he do? Was there any other relatives involved in the Trials? If so, who and how?
- Did he do anything else of importance?
Sarah Elizabeth Jasmine Carter MEREDITH SMITH
Sarah Elizabeth was my 2nd great-grandma on my mom’s mom’s side. She was born about 1864 in Arkansas (or lately seeing maybe Kansas) and she died about 1940 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Sarah has been a brick wall of mine since the extremely early days of my interest in genealogy. This was back in 1987. I’m starting to realize even more lately why she has been such a brick wall. I have found that most of what we “knew” was possibly incorrect.
We had her father’s name as PROBABLY something similar to James Henry MEREDITH, but that was just a bit more than a guess the way I understand it. As you can see Sarah had many official names, but what you don’t see right off the bat is that she evidently used different variations all through her life… not to mention that Sarah Elizabeth SMITH is entirely too common.
We have figured out over the years that her mom’s name is PROBABLY something like Seraphim (Sarah) CARTER (MEREDITH). Seraphim was born about 1838 in Pennsylvania (or maybe Arkansas) and probably died in Missouri with an unknown date. It looks pretty certain that Seraphim’s mother was Mary HENDRICKS, but was that a maiden or married name? If a married name, was HENDRICKS Seraphim’s biological father? If so, what was his name, ancestors, etc?
Here are the most burning questions for me right now:
- Was her father James “Jim” Henry MEREDITH (1837 to 1865 or 1885)?
- If so, when did he die? I was told that he died by the time Sarah was 15 or 16 – when she left with her mother to go to the school for the blind in St. Louis. If others are correct and he was her father, then he didn’t die until much later.
- If this was her father… was he dead when Sarah and her mom left for St. Louis? If not, did they tell the school that he was dead in order to get in or something? Or was Sarah lied to and told that he was dead when she and her mom left?
- DNA cousins seem to think that this man was the son of Nancy FAUBION (1817-1890). Is this correct? I had never heard of FAUBION before.
- Was Sarah on the reservation before she left for the school (like we were always told)? If the correct father, it looks like they were instead living in Kansas for at least ten years or more.
- If this is the correct father, why wasn’t Sarah’s mom (or any older female) living with them according to the 1870 and 1880 censuses? In 1880, it says that he was a widower. Did they lie or was it misunderstood where the mother was? If he really was a widower (and is the correct father), who went with Sarah to the school for the blind?
- Who are Sarah’s two brothers who were lawyers?
- I have been working on this part! — I very recently found and contacted the school for the blind that was and still is in St. Louis on the off chance that they could help me. They did some research, but could not find her anywhere in their records. One lady was intrigued enough, though, that she looked into it a bit further and discovered that there was another school for blind girls at that time in the St. Louis area that has since moved to Kirkwood, Missouri (and is now a home for elderly blind women).
- I need to contact this second school and see if they can find any information. I think if I find her in whichever school records, there may be the answers that can break down this brick wall once and for all.
- Find out if Sarah returned (or went for the first time) to the reservation where I believe at least one daughter was born (my great-grandma). If so, how much Native American was Sarah and through whom? Sarah was marked as Native American in one census I can find so far. Otherwise assumed to be Caucasian (and her husband was Caucasian). At first in my DNA testing it said that I didn’t have any Native American DNA, but after 23andMe added some base tests to compare to (including some Native American)… I now show something in between one and two percent. Another site that I uploaded my results to showed that I have a very small percentage of either Native American or Asian… I’m thinking definitely Native American. I was always told that two of my great-great-grandmas were half Native American and that I have Cherokee, Choctau, and a “few drops” of Shoshone. All of the DNA testing companies need more base tests of Native Americans to test against. I’ve read that their Native American base comes mostly from South America and Alaska… that’s not where any of my family came from. When they don’t know, they just lump the unknown into another category or even just say unknown. DNA doesn’t lie, but it’s only as good as the results they are testing against.
Mary “Polly” BOONE
Polly was my 6th great-grandmother who was born 14 Nov 1746 in New River, Ashe, North Carolina and died in 1781 in North Carolina. I have a lengthy (and quite popular) post about Polly here on Digging For Ancestors. It is popular because so many of her descendants don’t know if she is really THE Daniel BOONE’s sister or not… and all want to know!
- Is she really a descendant of THE Squire BOONE Sr (1696-1765)? If so, was she his daughter (likely illegitimate) or his granddaughter (something I have seen lately)?
- If not, who is she the descendant of?
- Did Polly die in 1780, 1781, or sometime later? If she died in 1780-1781 there are several children that cannot be hers.
- I also need to do a thorough search of my DNA connections through Ancestry and 23andMe. I need to see if there are any “confirmed” descendants of Squire BOONE that I share DNA with.
David was my husband’s 2nd great-grandfather on his father’s side. He was born 10 Mar 1848 in Germany and died 6 Aug 1918 in San Luis Obispo, California.
- Was the surname really THALER or THAYLER… or a little of both? If both, when/where/etc did it change?
- Did he get into trouble for embezzlement when he was “missing” for a couple of days? Or was he just (mistakenly) charged with it? I found that he was charged in a newspaper clipping. He was a well-loved citizen before and after this, though, so just curious.
- Why wasn’t he listed in his daughter Josephine’s wedding announcement? It only says that she was the daughter of “Mrs. David Thaler” and David was still alive.
- What does the paper displayed on the wall in the museum at the San Luis Obispo Mission say about David Thaler? What was his importance there during the days of the Mission? I have seen it and taken pictures, but I cannot find it.
- Why did Buffalo Bill call David “Dutch”? See if I can find out any more about their friendship. I found a newspaper article about how David once saved Buffalo Bill’s life.
So… Will I only research these right now? I’m sure that I will get sidetracked… probably a lot, but I do know that this list will help me in my research and help me get answers to some of the questions that are the most important to me at this time. Like I said before, I have found a lot of interesting tidbits researching down those rabbit holes others try to avoid. Plus, those little waving leaves are just too intriguing… am I right? 😉
What about you?
Do you make a genealogy research plan? If so, how do you do it? Have you been successful with this? Do you have any tips to share? Be sure to leave comments down below.
Do you think you have some information for me or that you can help me by looking something up in a resource you have access to? If so, please comment below telling me about it.