Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Researching Common Last Names

Trying to find ancestors with common surnames can be daunting. Dr. Henry Louis Gates and Meaghan Siekman offer some helpful research strategies in their genealogy column at The Root.

In particular, I like their idea of researching related families:
Even if people in one of your lines had a common surname, they may have married or were closely associated with people who had less-common surnames. If your Tom Jones married Catharine Hornburg, you’ll want to focus on researching the Hornburg family. Documents for associated families, particularly land and probate records, may mention your ancestors. 
In addition to families that married into your Jones family, pay attention to their neighbors or to people who served as witnesses to your family’s wills, land records, marriages and births. People often migrated and settled with people they knew, and if you notice a pattern of the same surnames always living near your family or participating in major events of the family, it may be worth doing a bit of research on them, too.
Great tip!

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