28 January 2014

My Brick Wall Ancestor

I love working on genealogy. I like learning about my family members, the places that they have lived and the reasons they move from place to place. I love to find the happy stories and find courage in the sad. I have felt both pride and sorrow for people I have never met. I am also thrilled when I find an immigrant ancestor and a link to another country or homeland.


I also like fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. Finding the census record with the name of a mother-in-law that leads to a marriage certificate. Genealogists know the thrill of finding a record that leads to another and another. I even enjoy the feeling of finding a record that validates an entry in an pedigree without sources.


I can't say that I enjoy the brick walls, the lines that end without any clues. I realize that some lines end because of how far back the family goes. The time or locality make it difficult to find more information. From what I have read many brick walls are because a source or fact is wrong or misinterpreted. I think my brick wall is a combination of these reasons.


The consensus from most sources is that to break a brick wall you should start with what you know about the closest relative to the brick wall. In this case that is Samuel Thomas Trotter. I do not have a birth record for Samuel but I do have a Death Certificate. Here is where the brick wall starts.

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This document is the only record I can find with that name of Samuel's father James Trotter. Death Certificates are primary sources for the death information for the individual. However, the information included on the death certificate that does not have to do with the death is not as reliable. This non-death information, although at times accurate, is second hand. The credibility of this information is dependent on the person who gives it, in this case the death informant.

From Samuel's death certificate is the following information:

  • Birth date - 15 Feb 1860
  • Birthplace - Greensbrough, Louisiana
  • Father - James Trotter; birth place not know
  • Mother - Ruth Glasscock; birth place Louisiana
As I have done subsequent research I found that:
  • I cannot verify this birth date - The only two sources I can find for that agree with this date are his obituary and his grave. All three of these sources are secondary.
  • The birthplace does not exist - There is evidence that the family is from Greensburg, St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. I have an 1850 Census from Greensburg with a Ruth Trotter and son Saml.
  • I cannot find any record of James. It is reasonable to assume that Ruth had a relationship with a Trotter. I cannot find any record with the name James. The closest I can find is from Samuel's brother William, whose middle name is Jasper.
  • I cannot find a Ruth Glasscock - However, There are several sources for Ruth Trotter including three census records, two land records, and two interesting new articles about her getting stabbed by a Hazel Woods.
From the information I have found, I cannot find one Primary source to verify any of this information. The information I can verify in family records is based on the name Ruth Trotter. I am not sure if Ruth Trotter is a fit or if I am trying to make the puzzle piece fit in the wrong puzzle.

I am open to suggestions or questions. I have spend a lot of time working on this brick wall.