Have you ever hit a brick wall in your family tree research? My biggest brick wall was William Hendrickson (Hendrixson), born in Kentucky somewhere around 1800. He was married in 1822 in Spencer County, Indiana. Beyond that, I knew nothing. And I couldn’t find any records that connected him with his parents or other family members. He was an island alone in Vermillion County, Indiana when he died in 1834.
Through a DNA connection, I discovered who his father and grandfather were. In one year I went from knowing nothing about William Hendrickson to taking his tree back three additional generations to 1760 Loudoun County, VA. It wasn’t all DNA matching…some of it was old-fashioned detective work at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and other libraries/depositories.
Same thing with my Webster family: I was stuck at William Webster, born about 1805, and living in Northumberland County, Virginia in 1850. I might as well have been researching “Smith” — there are a million Websters in that time frame in the USA! All I knew was that he had a daughter named Cornelia, and she married in Baltimore, Maryland in 1858.
Then I noticed a lot of DNA matches from Websters in Prince George’s County, Maryland. I found a little 5-page excerpt from a book about one of the people in this big family and I realized it was part of a bigger book. So I googled it, found the whole book, and there were Amanda Webster Lavine, Cornelia Webster Allen and Frances Webster Allen, mentioned in a Prince George’s County court case! Cornelia is my 2x great grandmother — Cornelia Webster married William Allen. William Webster was her father, and come to find out, Philip Lewin Webster was her grandfather.
So I ordered a copy of the court case from the Maryland Archives, and many more of the Webster family was listed in it.
Don’t you just love tracking down mystery ancestors? It’s a little addictive, but lots of fun, and we get to meet new family members all the time!
If you haven’t done your DNA, I strongly suggest you do. I’ve busted through a lot of brick walls by finding matching folks on AncestryDNA, comparing notes, and figuring out the real truth, once and for all.
I’d love to hear from you. Every real, true clue with documentation takes us all one step further. I hope you love genealogy as much as I do!