Actually the solution I found was to delete, eliminate, get rid of, flush away all extraneous things I thought I had to do. One of them was this blog. I like to put on line thoughtful, good looking, well formatted writing. That is, expressing what is on my mind in an organized manner. Sort of like using this as a journal?
For the last month I have been working daily on completing my research on my extended family. For example for my book it was necessary to concentrate on the 'direct' Stewart line or I would still be working on it for years to come. Perhaps a look into some facets of genealogy research would help to explain the time involved in the 'how to' and the results that can find more information on individuals and even add names to the tree!
This must be kept simple or I will lose most everyone in the first paragraph, including me. The item I choose is the Federal Census. A very simple record that every ones ancestors should be found in, but somehow there is doubt until additional facts are added. There is much info that can be found here, but there is a strict legal limitation of which records are open for viewing. Only census records that are seventy-two years old or more are open for public viewing. So, that means no one could find me in any record until 2002, when the 1930 census was released.
What have I been doing for the last month? Searching the census records on line. Our library in Surprise subscribes to Ancestry Library and Heritage Quest online. The Ancestry Library can only be accessed in the library on their computers, but Heritage Quest is available from my home computer.
First, a quick history of the Federal Census. The first official census was taken in 1790. It was a simple listing of heads of household and the number of folks in the household by age brackets. This format was continued and amplified until 1850, when they started listing everyone in the household by name and age. In 1860 they listed the month and year of birth of everyone, that was the only time. Some states also took census for a time, on the fifth year instead of the tenth year. This gave information of everyone (in those states) every five years.
Back to my Stewart ancestor, Robert, who came to the US from Scotland in 1786. I found him in the 1790 census. To prove it was really him, a description of the format used then, is needed. There were six columns used to list every thing about everyone in each household. This is taken from the original census, remember this was all hand written!
Col. 1: Name of Head of Families. Col. 2: Free white males of 16 years and upwards, including heads of Families. Col. 3: Free white males under 16 years. Col. 4: Free white females including heads of families. Col. 5: All other free persons. Col. 6: Slaves. Below is a copy of the top of the page found showing Robert Stewart is in the Caughnawaga Township (an Indian name later changed to Johnstown), Montgomery County (later part split off as Fulton Co.) in the the state of New York.
How to prove this is really my Robert? In the second column is Robert himself. I go to my data base and there is no other male over the age of 16 likely in his family in 1790 since he was married in 1778. The next column lists all the boys under 16. Again from the data base, I have Alexander age 11, John Robert age 10, James age 4 (my ancestor) and Charles age 3. Column 4 poses a little problem, first of course, is Jane, Robert's wife. Then again to the data base and there are two girls born before 1790, Catherine age 10 and Christian age 2.
By this time I am 99+% sure this is really Robert Stewart, my ancestor from Scotland. Can you see this would be hard to prove when the substantiating data, such as children's ages, is not available? Most of the time there are duplicates names in the villages and towns; for example there were four Stewart families or lines in Johnstown that arrived from Scotland within ten years of each other. Two were Robert's half brothers (not proven yet) and the fourth was from Northern Ireland. This is further complicated by inter-marriages in the family. Robert had three girls, they all married Stewarts, and John Robert married a Grace Stewart.
I was going to go on with more on census records and how much more can be found and how to do it, but this is enough if you can digest it.