"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

red, white & blue line


Printed in the Taylor Daily Press & Thorndale Champion
6 February 2004

Junior Detectives, Inc.

Do you watch JAG or CSI or Law & Order? If you do, you know the detectives and attorneys ask logical questions and then analyze the crime from several angles. Being a genealogist is just like being a detective; you are working from known and unknown facts to locate clues that will break open a case!

Today, we are going to consider ourselves employees of Junior Detectives, Inc. and hone our detective skills so that we will be able to guess the ending. Or maybe not! We do not want to get so far head of ourselves that we jump to conclusions and loose the case!

We are researching our family history; we will sometimes have facts that do not seem to connect. I have miscellaneous file that contain problems that I someday hope to solve, find out about this or link this person to a family.

Problem solving sometimes also includes going back to the beginning. Looking at your family group sheets. Analyze what is missing and develop a research log to document and source everywhere you looked to find or excluded to find the information. Remember even if it is a "no answer" it is still a good answer whether we like it or not.

Example: If you a looking for burial place of grandma Jones. Look in the county cemetery books, on-line cemetery indexes etc. then, when you do not locate her, note in your research log where you looked, i.e., books, URLs, etc. so that a year from now you do not re-event the wheel and cover the same material again. If you looked in newspapers and did not find an obituary be sure and list the names of the newspapers, location of publication and dates.

America's First Families Database

Harold Oliver is the Director of the America's First Families On-Line Genealogy Society that honors individuals living in America in the 1600s. This website at: http://www.linkline.com/personal/xymox/ has an easy to search database of over 25,000 names.

A quick search of one of my early surnames, Cave, found Benjamin Cave (1684-1762) in Orange Co., VA as well as another early ancestor, Edward Coppage (b.by 1678) in Isle of Kent, MD.

How much fun it was to search for family names. While it is a good starting point or clues, was with all internet information, verify, verify, verify.

Census Indexes

Pitfalls - Recently, I have been helping a friend to prepare her application for membership in the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Her one of her ancestors was, Thomas Hoke. We have searched and searched for him on the 1880 Census Index, Soundex, Ancestry.com Census, LDS 1880 Census Index, etc. He was not there but we knew he had to be there. Well, I decided Sunday, when I had some free time, that I would search every one with first name Thomas in Texas in the 1880 Census.

Yes, I know it was a nutty idea! But guess what? I found him! Yeah! His surname has been universally indexed, Soundexed, etc. as COKE . . . When you look at the old cursive handwriting, the fancy H for Hoke can be interpreted as a modern C and thus, the surname Coke in the indexes prevailed.

Remember, indexes are only as good as the indexer, the interpretation of the handwriting and the quality of the original material from which the index was prepared. Be creative in your problem solving! Now, I'm going to go back and try this technique with some of my missing family members!


In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

red, white & blue line

Return to Main Page

This webpage was last created on 5 March 2004 and was last revised on __________

Copyright 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604