It seems... that if we try to take shortcuts,
we often find obstacles or pitfalls in our path. At least that is what I generally end up with in my journey to discover my ancestors. We call these "brick walls" that become serious roadblocks in our genealogical research!
What happens is that we just tend to get in a rush to move back in time - we found the person we looked for many years and immediately wonder who are the parents. Off we go in hot pursuit of the next generation. OK, but wait, that is exactly what I do everytime. I know I should take time to attempt to lay down a solid foundation and learn everything I can about the person I just found instead of trying to quickly find the next generation, as if I thought the trail would get cold.
I have mentioned Lee Anne Flatt before. She was the one I have looked for since I first began my family history as a kid over 50 years ago. I did not know what her maiden name was until about 10 years ago - my grandmother was raised by her after both of her parents had died before Grandma was 2 years old and she said she could not remember much from when she was a little girl. However, her son Anderson Fowler Flatt died in 1951 in Wayne County, Michigan and the informant on his death certificate listed his mother's maiden name as Richardson! There are at least two good documents to get maiden names: marriage records and death certificates. I know she married David Flatt after 1860 and before 1866, but still have not found a marriage record. I could not find when or where Lee Anne had died. I did not want to take the time to trace down all of her kids to see if I could learn her maiden name... I was trying to take a shortcut by just looking wildly for information on Lee Anne. Finally, her maiden name came to me via a "new" cousin asking if I was related to her Anderson F. Flatt whose parents were David Flatt & Annie Lee Richardson!
Just recently, I decided to do my research like I should by laying that foundation before chasing after the shortcut (actually a wild goose chase!). I took one of Lee Anne/Annie's sons (Roe Tilden Flatt) and traced him from Christian County, Kentucky to Sumner County, Tennessee. His burial was posted on Find-A-Grave and right next to him was his mother, Annie Lee wife of David Flatt.
Just last week, I was checking out facts on another child Polly Flatt - who married William L. Crabtree in 1891 Christian Co., KY... my Grandma did tell me that part of the time as an orphan she lived with the Crabtree, as well as, Phipps & Flatt families. On Ancestry.com, the first of 821, 212 [possible] matching records was a digitalized photo of her official death certificate. She died on 16 Feb 1930 and her mother's maiden name was Richardson! To my surprise, my grandmother (Mrs. Viola West) was the informant!
Above is a copy of Polly Crabtree's death certificate (click on photo to enlarge the image): her father was David Flatt & mother's maiden name was Richardson with the informant being Mrs. Viola West [nee Phipps] of Hopkinsville, KY. Polly was buried in Dogwood Cemetery.
The Research Tip is to lay down a solid foundation before beating your head against a brick wall.