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3 Ways to Find Ancestors Who Didn’t Leave a Paper Trail: What to Do When There Are No Records

What to Do When There are No Records: 3 Ways to Find Ancestors Who Didn't Leave a Paper Trail

Not every ancestor will have a large trail of records leading to them. Some won’t have any, except maybe some census entries, and even then, they may be missing (for numerous reasons) on more than one census. Ancestors who lived in counties where courthouses burned down may have had important records that disappeared with the courthouse. Some ancestors were just purposefully private (and thus, mysterious) people.

There are all kinds of reasons you may not be finding many, or any, records regarding a particular ancestor. Just because there are no records, however, does not mean you can’t find out more about your ancestor and his or her life and family. You’ve just got to get creative in your search. Here are three methods you can use to find your record-less ancestor.

1. Look at Family Naming Patterns

You can get a lot of clues as to family relationships by examining naming patterns within a particular family. While it is still popular to name children after grandparents, parents, and other favored relatives, it was extremely common in the 18th and 19th centuries. If you’re dealing with an ancestor who left no records, look at their name and what they named their children.

Middle names are particularly important. They were used occasionally in the 18th century but were commonplace by the mid-19th century. Middle names were often used to honor a mother or grandmother’s maiden name or the first name of a grandfather or other distinguished relative. You can take a middle name or a first name and look in census records for people with the same last name in the general area who are old enough to be your ancestor’s parents or grandparents. You can also take a middle name and look for people in the area with that name as their surname.

Research these people, looking for wills, obituaries, land records, tax records, military records, and anything else that may mention family members. You may just find a mention of your ancestor if they were named after any of these people.

2. Research Their Neighbors

People did not live in a vacuum back in the old days. A community was particularly important in the age before television and the Internet. Neighbors often developed close relationships with each other. Marriages between the children of neighbors weren’t uncommon, especially in rural areas, and neighbors sometimes went to the same churches as each other, and even migrated to other areas together.

This is why it’s so important to research neighbors if you can’t find any direct information on your ancestor. Don’t just research the people who lived next door, either. Look at all of the people in the same general geographic area. You might find your ancestor’s name, and even his or her family relationships, mentioned in a neighbor’s will, land records, military records (if your ancestor gave an affidavit for a neighbor’s military pension application), church sponsorship records, and more. If you discover some neighbors left diaries, try to get access to them, as your ancestor and his or her family may be mentioned in those diary entries, as well.

3. Search Old Newspapers In and Near the Places Your Ancestor Lived

If you know where your ancestor lived (or the places he or she lived, if there were a lot of moves), you might have a chance at discovering new information about them in local and area newspaper records. Many genealogy websites have searchable newspapers online going back to the colonial days of this nation. Search for your ancestor by name in the newspapers in the town and county, and even surrounding counties of his or her place of dwelling. Sometimes news traveled to newspapers a surprising distance away.

If you can’t find the newspapers you need online, contact the newspaper offices in the town or county (and surrounding counties) today and ask if they keep an archive of old editions, and how you may access it. It may take a trip there in person and many days of reading through old newspapers, sometimes on microfilm, but it will be worth it if you find an obituary, birth announcement, marriage announcement, or personal story involving your elusive ancestor.

Just because your ancestor didn’t leave adequate records for you to find out anything about him or her directly doesn’t mean your search for information on this person’s life has hit a brick wall. You don’t need a time machine to go back and meet your ancestor in person to get answers. You just need to look at different ways to reach your ancestor from the present day. Not all genealogical searches are direct ones. The information you seek is usually there, though. All you need to do is go the long way around, and through some unusual pathways, to find them.

Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)

55 Comments

  • Census records don’t always help. Great Great grandfather was born in Indian Territory in 1870s. Earliest census I can find of him say his parents were also born in I.T. Name was Herbert Littledeer Campbell (also, Bert Campbell Littledeer). His death certificate says his parents were born in Pennsylvania, but that is the only thing I have seen that says that. Any Littledeer or Campbells, or Littledeer Campbells want to help me?

  • Hi, Ive been doing ancestry for 10yrs but am now stuck on the original problem…..My father b1888 said that he was second cousin to Margarat Williams b1888.Living relatives also confirm this statement.There are three families involved ,and the common denominator is this one Great Grand parent to make us 2nd cousins?.How can I trace this back as there are sooo many people(many with the same Welsh names)any suggestions would be appreciated. thanks in advance.

  • Hello hope you all can Help? I have been trying to find some kind of information on John and Lucia Hollingsworth. They are brother and sister from Edgefield South Carolina. They are on the 1940 census with the Johnson Family. Anything you can find will help. Thanks

  • I am looking for the generations beyond my 2x great grandfather. The 1880 Brown County Illinois census states that my great grandfather was born in Brown County, but his older sister was born in Ohio in about 1859-1860. That is where I lost them. I have zero evidence of them in Ohio or even the surrounding states. When my 2x great grandmother died he remarried and it is this woman who shows up on the 1880 census in Brown County, IL. I cannot find the death record for my 2x great grand mother or 2x grand father. They do not appear buried in the area either. But I suspect they are. However, my great grandfather and mother are and are listed in the IL archives. My 2 x great grandfather did not leave a will. He died without an obituary listed. He owned land, but there is really nothing further listed on the land deed to tell me anything different. They were not very wealthy, so newspapers are not a help. Not a lot of news were around that area that I can find.
    This has been a long time brick wall I just cannot get past short of hiring a professional. I would hate to see that bill! I have found some evidence of them possibly living in the neighboring county of Adams in Illinois, but to no avail. Anyone out there in southern Illinois that can give me any information?
    Names I am looking for are John Schoonhoven born:1826 Prussia – married Gertrude Einhaus children: Elizabeth and John P

  • I am trying to find my biological father, the name I was given was James Hunt from Saint Louis Missouri born 1924
    He was an airman posted in England in WW2 1945.
    There’s are so many James Hunt’s in Saint Louis Missouri it is very difficult.
    I have a feeling he may have been adopted as my DNA has found 2 first cousin but there is nothing showing James Hunt in their family tree.
    I am therefore stuck on how to find out if he was adopted.

  • Hi I am looking for any information about my grandfather Thomas Armstrong born in the UK 1929 to parents John Thomas Armstrong and Sarah Armstrong nee grey tom was one of several siblings . He left the UK in 1961 on a six month visa to the USA after the six months visa ran out returned to the UK . In 1962 he returned to the USA leaving behind wife and three siblings two girls one boy ( my father ) who was six months old child at that time from that day to this no contact . I believe he was in contact with his mother who gave little or no information except he worked his passage on board the queen Mary he worked in the golden earing resteraunt javksonville florida which I now know burnt to the ground 1963. One other family member claim he moved to atlanta Georgia in the early 80s. Twelve years on still zero information I do believe that he always worked in hotel and resteraunt industry as he was a head wine waiter in the UK. Desperately need help with this if anyone has any leads I will be so grateful for them.
    Thank you

  • What year did he die? Missouri’s death certificates are online from 1910-1965 @MO secretary of state site.

  • I am looking for records on my biological father, Joseph Rebecca. He is from Chicago but the last location I know he was living was Kansas City, Missouri. He has since passed away. I am looking for his death certificate for my own personal records.

  • I’m looking for info about a 5th great-grandfather, David Bly, whose wife was Mary. My 5th great-grandfather, David Bly. He bought 130 acres on both sides of the Buffalo River near the Forks of Buffalo for £25 from William and Ann Gatewood on November 5, 1770. Their niece, Elizabeth Gatewood (daughter of William’s brother, Henry), was married to a Thomas Evans. Now, Thomas had a son named Stanhope Evans who was a neighbor of David Bly. Thomas and Elizabeth had a daughter, Mary, born after 1754, and David Bly was born in 1755. Mary is mentioned as the wife of David Bly in a couple of land sales (without her maiden name).

    Also, on August 26, 1782, David Bly sold 300 acres on the Buffalo River to William Gatewood, Jr., Elizabeth Gatewood’s cousin whose parents sold David Bly his first land in Amherst County. It was in Lexington Parish.

    In addition, on August 5, 1784, David Bly sold more land to William Gatewood, Jr., a son of William and Ann Gatewood. One of the witnesses was Henry Gatewood, a brother of Elizabeth Gatewood.

    On December 5, 1785, John Upshaw bought two certain tracts or parcels of land containing 300 acres from Stanhope Evans and David Bly on the branches of the Buffalo River.

    I have also researched the other neighbors of David Bly, and none had a neighbor who was old enough to be David Bly’s common law wife. Mary is mentioned on a couple of land sales as David Bly’s wife. Stanhope Evans and the Gatewoods’ are mention several times. His sister, Mary, was indeed common law wife to David.

    John Bly, the son of David and Mary, had several children. One was named Elizabeth (perhaps named after Elizabeth Gatewood), and James Henry (perhaps named after Henry Gatewood).

    With all of that, I was able to determine that Mary Evans was the daughter of Elizabeth Gatewood and Thomas Evans.

  • hello i am looking for someto assist me find WHERE my grand-dad was born. he lived in Cape Town, South Africa. died in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have his identity number, date of birth and date of death. i need to know WHERE he was born. thank you

  • Try Familysearch.com it is free and I have ancestor’s from the 1400 and even before some even have story’s on them.

  • Also I would like to find my Great grandmother’s son she had before she meet my great grandfather. all I know on him is he was born in 1943. he was male and died in the 1980’s he was also in the navy or army something like that. since he was adopted and my grandma his Half sister forgot his adopted parents name I can’t trace him. Oh and he was named Kenneth I don’t know if first or middle name.

  • I know who my biological great grandmother is but I cant find nothing on her or her family. and on my adoptive side/Biological 3rd great grandfather family he was from Astria Near Germany. P.s I was adopted my my biological fathers sister. If any of this even makes sense. Thanks

  • My 4th great-grandfather, John Bly, was born in December 23, 1780 in Amherst County, Virginia, near the Forks of Buffalo. His parents names were David Bly and Mary (maiden name unknown). I can’t find David and Mary’s parents identities, nor Mary’s maiden name.

  • I need any information on Jonathan Seamands, Simmons, Seamans. He was born 1756 in Virginia, probable Richmond Co. He lived in Orange and Albermarle Counties. There are only two paper trails that can be found. His Revelationary War application for pension and his name on the list of enlisted. He moved to Tennessee in 1807. I would love to have names of his wife and children.

  • My grandparents and great grandparents I know the name.Ansel Hanning and his wife Marget Hanning.My grandparents were John Harold hanning and grandma was Glindora Hanning of Washington. Grandfather was mic mac indian.We cant trace great great grandparents they were from Maine.If anyone can help me please email me at Jamessnyder555@yahoo.com.My mom is dying of cancer.She has been trying to get this info for years.But is at a dead end.Her cousins and stuff are Native and live in Maine.I see Mi’kmaq migrated down from canada..How do I get this information. ?Thank you

  • Check out the Cherokee in Maryland. I had a friend who found out she was adopted then found out she was of native blood. the 2 of us got together after she found her birth certificate with some names on it. It turned out that her grandfather was Chieftan of the Cherokee in Maryland.
    The main thing you will have to do is find where the Cherokee were when she was born. But first try to get a copy of the adoption and is should say where she was born and then some of the census are good ones to look through.

  • Need help, mother was born 1922 no birth certificate, no record anywhere of her birth, no living familly members except grown children. Possible fathers family, Does anyone have any ideas on how to attempt to locate information on parents?

  • my great grand father name was henry douglas he was born in 1852 in Mississippi all i know his father is from maryland and mother is from mississippi that all i know

  • Seek your local LDS church location and ask around about getting help to find your ancestors. They have free access to sights such as ancestory.com, findmypast.com, and familysearch.org. They also have great members to help you with your search, all for free.

  • I know that my great grandmother was native American, from the Cherokee tribe. But I cannot find her parents as she was adopted in the 1890s. How would I go about finding out who her birth parents were?

  • One piece of advice that others experienced genealogist have shared was to start with what you know and that’s with yourself. I have taken that advice and have been able to go back to relatives who were born in the early 1800s by writing down clues. Once I got these clues I would search them and sometime was successful. I used several online sites like Ancestry and FamilySearch as search tools for documents to examine. There are some really good genealogical sites out there. Check them out to see if some them might meet your need. Good luck on your findings.

  • Julia, whom did you do a DNA test thru? Ancestry does an autosomal (spit based) test; FamilyTreeDNA does the cheek cell swab test… I’m not sure about 23&Me, but I think theirs is a spit test, too. My Ancestry one came back stating I had 3% Native American (no tribe affiliation) and 4% Sub-Saharan Africa (the projected seat of civilization?); my FamilyTreeDNA one did not break out the ethnic %’s but did provide a map of my very short Haplogroup origins with Coding Regions, and HVR1 and HVR2 lettering bases. Those do correspond with the known ethnic tracing I have thru conventional paper trails and the 93% European from the Ancestry test. I cannot find any Sub-Saharan or Native Americans in my paper trails…

    Maybe you could contact another testing company, like 23 & Me, include a cover letter and see if they could break down your 44% Native American by tribes. Or, they might have a 1-800 phone number or email contact site you could ask a whole lot of questions before sending money and your spit/cells for testing?

    I would be interested in knowing your success with that!!

  • Have you actually spent time with the Indian Dawes rolls in both the state of Arkansas and Oklahoma? Mary Jane is more than likely the link to the Indian heritage. She might be an Indian orphan, or her name was Anglicized when she married Thomas Branscum. If you know how old she was reported to be at the time of marriage, there might be a marriage record made by the keeper of the rolls or the minister that officiated at the various holding sites for Indians in Arkansas or Oklahoma. Since all of those places you list are directly in the path of the old Cherokee Trail of Tears, and good records were kept of those being “re-homed” across the Southwest, you might get really lucky with some of those earlier records.

  • I had a DNA test done a couple of years ago it came back saying that I was 44% American Indian but there are no records of any family numbers or what tribs my ancestors my have come from. My families come from New Mexico,Arizona .

  • Do you subscribe to sites such as Ancestry.com, Rootsweb.com or have a free account on FamilySearch.org? If you do, make sure you are paying for the “World” version which will give you access to a lot of Canada’s records. Start with free account on Familysearch.org as they have a HUGE voume (or some say the largest volume) of digitized and old paper trail records and are adding to them every single day. I large portion of their fabulous book collections are also digitized or in the process of being digitized.

    There should be a birth record, baptismal record, or census record in Canada (what part of Canada?) for Charles William Kelley. The down side might be that there are several different people with the same or similar name, with similar birth years and church affiliations, that you will have to follow before connecting with the right GGrandfather’s family. Once you find those records, you can branch out to immigration records for Canada to find when the Irish g-g-grandfatherfather arrived in order to meet and marry your g-g-grandmother.

    Records on Familysearch.org for Charles William Kelley:
    1. Find a Grave record, #86572793, died in Imperial, Chase, Nebraska, USA, buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.
    2. Death record for a son named Charles Clay Kelly, b. in Nebraska, 1907, died Chicago in 1976 listing father as Charles William Kelley, mother as Annetta Scherich.
    3. New Brunswick Provincial Marriage record for 12 April 1906, bride Louil P. Crosby, with both sets of parents listed.
    4. Christening date of 1901, also Canada

    And the list goes on. There are several different sets of parents listed with a Charles William Kelley as the child… however, different marriages of same man to different brides, etc. With no more information than you stated above, there are over 16,000 records just on Familysearch.org. Once you plug in the exact information you already know, I am sure that list will shrink drastically until you can find the right people.

    Keep searching! Those records do exist, you just have to sift thru the pile!

  • In this day and age of the big push for DNA testing, if you have not already done so, research the options available from the various testing sites and obtain and take one or more of these tests. They can be instrumental in helping you determine IF you truly have Native American origins and probably give you great options for the tribe affiliation. With that information, you will have better success at finding the family members currently on your brick wall status!

    I managed to find and explode several myths in my family and straighten out a big portion of my husbands family tree by using DNA and surname studies associated with those results. I will admit that I am still struggling with my maternal grandmother’s parents sides (circa early 1900’s), even with DNA tests. Those walls are harder to breach and the paper trail is scant, at best. Partly due to an early parents death, the scattering of the 13 children amongst other family and forcing them to become employed in domestic occupations at really early ages and, sadly, living in U.S. States that hoard their few paper records.

  • Im trying to find information on my GG Grandfather named Arthur Bloomfield Gould Im not sure if he came to the USA from Europe. his birth was 1904 passed 1950 and he lived in eather NY or NJ.

  • I have hit a few brick walls …my great uncle Valentine Bean , no trace of him after he sailed from Liverpool UK for Canada 1910 , have the ships manifest with his name but there it ends, any help would be appreciatted.Have been searching for this man for over 20 years.
    Then there is the Thompson family from Canada , Annie Bean ( Valentines sister ) married Sydney thompson , they had 3 children Rhoda ,Victor & Edna , would like to know more about this family also .

  • Here’s my problem, I only know my family history as far as the early 1900s but I want to know who my ancestors were in the 1500s and before that. Were there poets in the family? Was someone a doctor? Maybe one of them joined the army? I want to know who these people were, what lives they led but I don’t know their names and no amount of research is going to help me because I am in the wrong country to start. How can I trace back my ancestors if I don’t even know their names? That’s counterproductive.

  • Do you know if your Great Great Grandmother Catherine had any brothers or sisters? I found a 1880 census on Familysearch.org, that has a Catherine Adkins born 1873 in Virginia to Geo (I’m guessing George) & Susan Adkins. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MC5B-VZR. You might have to make an account to see it if you don’t already have one.

  • She married Isaac Thomas Branscum 31 Aug 1893 in Stone, AR. Isaac was born 1 Mar 1871, AR. They had 6 children. James Lewis, Feb 1896, Locust Grove, Stone, AR. Rhoda B, Mar 1990, AR. Roy Roosevelt, 6 Mar 1902, AR (my grandpa). Zella A, 11 Sept 1903, AR. Floyd Theodore, 3 Dec 1906, Muskogee, Muskogee, OK. Emma Dora, 10 Oct 1909, Searcy, White, AR. I am 51 yrs old & I never met James Lewis or Rhoda B but I did meet all of the other four. I have the death dates of all but 1 if you need them. I just can’t understand why I can’t find Mary Jane’s parents. Thank you so much for helping me. I appreciate your time.

  • I can get to my great grandmother but cannot find her father or mother. My mothersaid that she had always been told that his name was John Smith & he was an Indian scout. My mother’s oldest aunt, who died s few years ago at 92, has told stories about him hiding them in caves & beside logs covers with leaves to keep them safe. My grandmother’s name was Mary Jane Smith, born 13-April-1871 Arkansas….died 11-June-1956 Heavener, LeFlore, Oklahoma…burial Hontubby Community Cemetery, Heavener, Oklahoma. My mother, who is now 82, has been told all of her life that we are of Indian descent and that we have a roll number. Oklahoma honors the Dawes Indian Roll & I would very much like to find this info. It would be VERY beneficial to my entire family. I have more info on Mary Jane’s marriage & children if you need it. I have looked on everything that I can think of & the genealogy society has also helped. I greatly appreciate any help that you can give me.

  • I am looking for the names and any information available on the parents of my Great-Great-Grandmother Catherine (Adkins) Smith. She was born in 1873 and died in 1914. She married my Great-Great-Grandfather Wilburn Smith in 1892.

    Additional information:

    (1)My Great-Grandmother was Martha Elizabeth (Smith) Montcastle. She was born in 1894 and died in 1939. She had four siblings (that I was able to find information about): James Everett Smith (1896-1973), Penkie Smith (1898-1931), Dorothy Smith (1901-1930), & Luzella Smith (1904-1962). She married my Great-Grandfather James William Thomas Montcastle on January 30, 1920 in Yawkey, Lincoln Co., West Virginia.

    (2) My grandmother was Juanita (Montcastle) Hazlett. She was born in 1924 and died in 2001. She had 7 siblings: Blondiena Montcastle (1921-1973), James Carlton Montcastle (1923-1923), Raymond Otis Montcastle (b.1926), Claita Jane Montcastle (1928-1931), Edward Lee Montcastle (1930-1931), William Delbert Montcastle (1931-1986), and Charles Own Montcastle (1935-2003). She also had 7 half-siblings: Lucy May Montcastle (1900-?), Anna Kate Montcastle (1902-?), Ruby Estelle Montcastle (1904-1938), Thomas Dewell Montcastle (1908-1983), Ada Dell Montcastle (1911-1991), Myrtle Marie Montcastle (1913-2012), and Donald Woodrow Montcastle (1916-?). She married my grandfather Ogen Iman Hazlett (1900-1997).

  • My GGrandfather is Charles William Kelley, he was born in Canada, to Irish Father and Canadian Mom, he died in Imperial Nebraska around 1916 . No death records so I can find out my GGGrandfather and Mothers name, it is like he never existed. Can not even find a marriage certificate to my GGrandmother who was born in Pennsylvania. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

  • As a post script of my last message. If anyone might know anything, my email is sue.defoor@yahoo.ca
    He married Sarah Jane Shipman and I believe her family was from southern Ontario as well. I do know who her parents were and where she died. They had 7 Children and 3 of which Elizabeth, Charles and Norman Franklin Fredenburg were all born in Canada, and the rest Minnie, Anna, George, Norah were all born in Jefferson County N.Y. Anna married Thomas Ernest Foster at the age of 38 I believe and lived in Ontario around Lansdowne area or maybe a bit further east. (My maiden name was McConnell)from Lansdowne Ontario

  • We as a group of 1st, 2nd and 3rd cousins have been searching for Birth info or census for circa 1830 to 1836 in Upper Canada, we think near Mallory town Ontario, although in one thing I have found it says mallong town, an obvious misspelling. We have looked and looked but there is nothing we can find. Ambrose Fredenburg is who we are looking for information on. We have his life when he married in N.Y. State and his life living in Jefferson County N.Y.state from circa 1863/4 to his death in 1897 (in New York) is all it says, so we don’t know if New York state, or New York city. We also know where he is buried. Riverside Cemetery near Alexandria Bay N.Y. We just cant find anything about him before 1858. So if he was born in 1830ish, that means 28 years of no records in Ontario. We are stuck.

  • I have been searching for any information on John Lamonda. He was born in1791 in France. Found that on military records. He isn’t several times GGF. This has been about 15 yrs. if anyone has info please contact me at kneubauer225@ Gmail.com. Thanks I have tried all 3 of the given suggestions. Thank you Kay Neubauet

  • You might be interested in this facebook group called “Native American Indian – Old Photos.” I was amazed at the photos, the amount of photos, and all the different tribes by location. It’s a wonderful source of information.

  • Well my biggest brick wall that I haven’t been able to put a dent in.. is my great grand father’s great grandfather. The only record I can find is his marriage record. in 1848. In 1850 his wife and children are living with her parents, by 1860 she is remarried and the children by her first marriage are living with the new husband. Can’t find a grave, an obit, a death certificate, a divorce.. nothing. Can’t find his birth.. and his parents were not listed on the marriage certificate either. Can’t find him in the 1850 census either or any census after that or before that. as the 1840 census does not list names of children. 🙁

  • I’ve been trying for 8 years. Have a 3rd Great Grandfather who was a slippery little sucker in 1830’s.. Didn’t marry, but had one son. The son was raised by the in-laws, mother moved out of state and left him there with her parents. Then mom came back but he (the child) moved out of state and lived with aunt. We have nothing but a partial name for the dad, off of a death certificate for the son. Banging my head against this brick wall for years. The dad never showed on a census that I have found yet. Did DNA hoping mayby I could find some hope in knocking it down, but still nothing.

  • My Great Grandfather is a brick wall while I can trace me from about 1911 to 1954 anything before that I can not find a thing to help I have searched a lot of records and nothing matches or looks like it might be. I don’t even know where to look anymore. We think he changed his name but again no proof I really don’t think I will ever break through and find the rest of the family.

  • I worked for a while in the Regional Studies Center of a College library. We indexed the local historical society’s publication. There is a lot of family information contained in these publications, and in papers donated to the college and historical society. Perhaps a visit to the location will be of benifet, too.

  • I’ve tried all these with my 3rd greatgrandfather.Did anyone see the movie Summersby? Well I think that’s what he did . All the men his name and birth area are accounted for and he isn’t one of them !

  • I began searching for my grandmother’s grave when my mom died and that’s when i discovered she had several different names. She may have been born Mary Martin in Ohio in 1887 or Maude Downes (year ?) She married the first time under the name May Martin , to George M. Hueston and the second time under the name Mary Downes to Raymond Clifford Estes. Downes obviously wasn’t her married name. (The only Maude Downes I could find died in 1910 ) Her first husband even changed his entire name from Wye E. Moser to George Hueston after he left a first family with the name Moser. This has been like reading a novel with all the name changes. My grandmother even raised her 1st. husband’s illigitimate grandson as her own oldest child. I may never sort this out and may never really know her.

  • I also have a very short branch on my family tree. While all the others seem to grow easily, the branch for my adopted grandmother is almost nonexistent. All I have is a baptismal certificate from Ontario, Canada. Although it has names listed as her parents, I have found nothing.

  • I have also hit a brick wall after 25 years of researching my family. I strongly believe they were of Indian descent. Living was hard on Indians as they were not accepted in society as the white race. I wonder if my family changed to white as they migrated leaving very little documentation of their heritage. Well, maybe one day I will find something to get me back on track.

  • Ellen, I think a lot of families have secrets that are so deeply buried or hidden that it seems like they will never see the light of day – I know about few in my family … a few secrets, don’t have the answers yet. Tomorrow is another day & I’ll try again. Good luck with your search – take a break now and then, but don’t give of hope.

  • ive been trying these methods to no end.after 2 years,im at a dead end.family members have been of no help.i think its because of a family secret kind of,regarding an adoption in which the truth is being hidden.i have figured some of it out.still need to dig deeper.also im dealing with american and canadian.apprently my relatives were boarding crossing for a few generrations.as a result,some were born american and some canadain.some were already american and married canadian and vise versa.its very interesting.also my family last name is a bit of a famous one or so it seems.its like reading a mysetery novel.wish me luck

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