Saturday, June 26, 2010

Looking for children when you know something about the parents: John VERNELL #1

My story of the VERNELL family is an ongoing example of how to do family history research.

Typically in family history, it's easiest to work backwards from the present to the past. That's because we usually know something about how things are today, and from that we can start to put together the pieces and figure out how they were last year, last century, and so on.

However, the principle is really to work from the known to the less known.

In genealogy research, start with what you know

Eleanor Ann(e) CAMPBELL married John VERNELL on July 5, 1864. I wrote a little about this yesterday, "Building a person's life story from Ancestry.com".

I know that Eleanor Ann(e) had children with John, because it is part of the family history that's been passed down to me. We can't always trust those stories 100% but at the very least, they give us a starting point.

The information you have helps you decide what genealogical records to search for and where

I have now got several fairly reliable known pieces of information:
- the wedding date and place
- the names of the bride, groom, and their respective fathers,and the witnesses
- the occupations of the groom and the two fathers, and
- the addresses and ages of the bride and groom.

I am going to check the census return for the first census after the wedding. If I find this couple, with any luck I will also find some or all of their children living with them and listed as a family in the census. The census is a good choice of record to look at now. I could go on a fishing expedition looking for children in the indexes of births, or the baptism records, but the thing is, I don't yet know for sure how many children John and Eleanor Anne had, and I don't know their names, apart from John's.

(In fact I am sort of cheating. I actually found out about John's existence by looking at the census, and now I am going back to explain my search steps.)

Next: Looking for John VERNELL and his wife Eleanor Anne, nee CAMPBELL, in the 1871 census of England.

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