March 29th, 2012

One Page of the 1860 Census

Recently, someone on the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists Facebook page posted a link to this article about doing genealogy at, of all places, cnet:

http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57403432-285/three-ways-to-research-your-family-tree/

The article did about what you would expect (act like there's something wrong with using ancestry.com, point out that the 1940 census will shortly be released, suggest some free online resources like familysearch) and one somewhat unexpected thing: plug his cousin's genealogical research service. Because the author (and the service) offer a free quote on problems you submit, I promptly sent them my most obnoxious brick wall. It is obnoxious for two reasons: it's sort of the most recent one chronologically (occurring within the nineteenth century) and it involves Tennessee. I wouldn't want to suggest that Tennessee is uniquely obnoxious, because I find large chunks of the south equally frustrating, but there it is.

I received a prompt and polite reply from the service indicating receipt of the problem and have not yet gotten a quote back. Honestly, I would not be particularly surprised if I heard from them again in several months ... or never.

In the meantime, I thought I'd take another shot at some of the people involved in the brick wall, on the remote chance that my skills had improved enough (or someone else had shown up online with a complete solution) to make progress. The short answer is, I have not. But as I worked on assembling all the readily available online records (translation: found everyone in the censuses), I found one page in the 1860 census, Bradley County, Tennessee, Second District. I knew about this page, because it has my great-grandfather on it as a child, living with his father, mother (before she died tragically young) and a younger sister and brother (lines 36-40). What I had not realized was that the lines above him were his close relatives.

Line 30 is his mother's sister-in-law (his mother's brother, her husband, recently died) and lines 31-35 are his cousins.

Lines 23 and 24 are his maternal grandparents. Living with them is another of his mother's sisters on line 25, and lines 26-29 are more cousins.

The problem, of course, is that I'm not trying to track my great-grandfather's mother's family, which is thick upon the ground in this corner of Bradley. I'm trying to track his father's family, and they are nowhere to be found.