13 September 2015

What do you want to learn about your #FamilyHistory? 52 Questions W15

This week we will focus on the question -

What do you want to learn about your #FamilyHistory?

Follow-up questions that go with this question are:
Do you have a burning question about the family that you would like to know the answer?
If you had questions about your family, who would you turn to for the answer?
Do you have any information about this person in your records?
What information do you have to link you to this person or event?

Deciding on a research objective is the next set in learning about your family history. Sometimes you need to set several different objectives to reach the end goal if what you really want to learn. It is important not to pick to large of an objective. It is best to set smaller goals that will help to lead you to the bigger goal or objective.

It is important to research only one objective at a time. Objectives should be small and based on events. Start from what is known to the unknown, sometimes this means starting with a death certificate or a grave and working toward a marriage or birth certificate. It is also best to work within family groups one at a time and not large branches of your tree. Each step you make will lead to more and more information.

The minimum amount of information you should find for a person is their name, gender, approximate birth date and place, and their death date and place. Marriage information is also a great way to expand your tree and find more related documents and sources.

By no means am I an expert but I have a desire to learn and have had my own experiences of trial and error.
Henrietta Inez Moler Merrian Green (1896-1966)
For years I worked to try and chip away at the Trotter family brick wall. A task that I am still working on but need to focus on something else for a while. You can only bang your head against a wall so many times before you learn your lesson. I took a look at my fan chart and saw the blank spaces from my maternal grandmother's family.

My uncle Michael Hill had done a lot of genealogy work on the family in the 80's and had presented my mother a book of printed pedigree charts and family group records. In all of his efforts he was unable to find any information on my grandma's line. FamilySearch also did not have any information populated into my tree. I decided I would take a look at this line and see if there was any information I could find now that 30 years had past since uncle Mike had worked on the line.

When I was a child my mom told me the family tale that the Merrian family had come from Nottingham, England. They they were part of Robin Hood's merry men and lived in Sherwood Forrest.  The thought of being a descendant of these people gave me a lot of pride and many visions of grandeur.

There were few real pieces of evidence I had to go by but another more plausible story I heard about my grandmother's name gave me a place to start. My grandmother was named Wilberta Annette Merrian Bartholomew and she said that she was named after her father Wilbert. He was expecting to have a son so they settled on naming him after his father but when she was born they gave her a feminized version of his name. I was fairly certain that her father's name was Wilbert Merrian.

Because Wilberta is such an unusual name it make it pretty easy to use as a search term. I quickly found her in the 1930 U.S. Census living in Reno, Nevada. A record my uncle Mike would not have had access to. In the census I found the family of Alfred W. and Henrietta I. Merrian along with their children Wilberta, James and Ruth. This record also states that Alfred as well as his father were born in Canada. It also says he immigrated to the United States in 1892.

In the 1920 Census in Reno, Nevada I found the entry for A. W. [indexed as H. W.]  and Henrietta Merrian. Both A. W. and his father are listed as being born in Canada. I am almost positive this is my great-grandparents. A bonus from this record says he immigrated to the United States in 1898.

A 1918 World War I Draft Registration Card lists a birth date as June 7, 1879 for Alfred Wilbert Merrian. It also lists his nearest relative as Henrietta Moler Merrian, and they are living in Sacramento, California. I am sure these are my great grandparents despite the change in his name.

 Following steps like these I was able to verify the members of my family across Canada to Connecticut. A process I will outline in another post.