Hopefully by now, you are thinking outside the box. Rather than a narrow view of looking at one record and then concluding that you cannot solve your problem, you are looking at all possible sources including censuses, land, military, probate, etc., and are expanding your search to include siblings, in-laws, neighbors, and associates.
Let me show you how I broke through one of my brick walls.
When my brother became interested in tracing our family, we divided up our research. I took our mother’s side, he took our fathers. Our dad’s great-grandparents were Sidney Twogood and Olive Slade. That was the end of the line of what we knew.
For years my brother searched for Sidney Twogood’s parents. By following other records my brother determined Sidney was born about 1801 in New York, but there was no vital registration in the early 1800s of New York to name Sidney’s parents. Through census and other records my brother narrowed the search to Rensselaer County, but no church records solved the puzzle. Without vital or church records, my brother was stuck.
Time went by and my brother passed off the research to me. I had been working on other lines, so I kept Sidney’s file on my back burner and every time I journeyed to the Family History Library I searched the Rensselaer County records. Sidney’s name did not appear in the grantee or grantor indexes, nor did any possible parent appear in the probate indexes. I dabbled in the latest compiled genealogies, cemetery records, etc., but no solutions surfaced.
Every time I chatted with my brother on the phone he’d ask if I had found Sidney’s parents yet. I hadn’t.
Finally one day I picked up Sidney’s file and the light bulb went on. I needed to broaden my search to include other family members. (I know we preach this now, but years ago when I conducted this search, I hadn’t heard of it.)
Once I understood that, I looked again at the Rensselaer county land records. One deed caught my eye. A William Twogood sold a parcel of land to a Daniel Halstead. [Rensselaer County, New York, Deeds Book 47:462; FHL microfilm 546,718].
William may have been Sidney’s brother or at least a relative, as they both moved their families to Rockford, Illinois. So he was a man of interest!
I found the deed and noticed that on the same page was a second deed wherein a William acquired the land from a Deborah Twogood who had inherited it with her siblings from their father, Thomas Halstead. Deborah’s residence at the time of this deed was Dryden, Tompkins County, New York. These two deeds were recorded on the same day. [Rensselaer County, New York, Deeds Book 47:462; FHL microfilm 546,718].
I wondered if Deborah Twogood was William AND Sidney’s mother.
Since she had moved to Dryden, I searched for a probate record there. Sure enough, there was a probate record for one James Twogood!
James Twogood had died intestate (without a will), but he owned land, so the court appointed Deborah Twogood as administratrix and Daniel Halstead as administrator to disburse the land to James Twogood’s heirs! This was the only probate record, however. [Tompkins County, New York, Letters of Administration 36:120; FHL microfilm 853,083.]
Not to be discouraged about not finding the will or other probate documents, I went to the land records.
I found a deed that tied it all together with a nice string. It was a Tompkins County deed dated 18 May 1832 wherein Sidney Twogood and Olive Twogood his wife of Binhampton [sic], Broome County, New York, sold a parcel of land, lot 46 of Dryden, Tompkins County, for $245 to one Albert Phillips of Dryden, Tompkins County. After the property description is the words, “of which James Twogood late of the town of Dryden deceased owned in his life time and seized of at his death and decended to the aforesaid Sidney Twogood by heirship at Law …” [Tompkins County, New York, Deeds Book U:273; FHL microfilm 851,242,spelling preserved] Note: Sidney’s sister, Sarah Twogood, was married to the buyer, Albert Phillips.
I also found a series of deeds from Sidney’s various siblings, each selling their portion of lot 46, Dryden.
William Twogood never did appear in any of these Tompkins County deeds. I am not concerned about this. It is possible that he had already received his inheritance when he acquired the Rensselaer County parcel from Deborah Twogood, and thus did not receive another portion in this distribution.
All in all, it was only by expanding my search to people beyond my ancestor and by following an assortment of records that I was able to finally find Sidney Twogood’s parents.
Excitedly, I phoned my brother and announced I had found Sidney’s parents. My brother didn’t believe I actually did it and he said, “You THINK you found Sidney’s parents.” I said, “No, I REALLY found Sidney’s parents. I’m sure of it.” Sidney Twogood’s parents were James and Deborah (Halstead) Twogood.
How have you solved a brick wall problem? Did you include family, friends, and neighbors, or follow a paper trail?