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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finding parents of brothers born early 1820s Pennsylvania

James' Question:
I have searched for brothers Joseph Gordon b. 1823 ?? Pennsylvania, and Harrison Gordon b.1827 ?? Pennsylvania. My first location of them was Baughman Twp., Wayne Co., Ohio 1850. I have traced them after that, but have never found a sign of them before that.

AskOlive Answer:
Hello James - When it is difficult to trace an ancestor backwards, there are other methods you can use. One is to search forward, which you have done, making sure to develop all the children of each of the brothers. Look for obituaries of every descendant. Look for death records to find out if there are any clues provided as to parents or grandparents' birth locations or names.

Another method is to develop theories based on clues. Then work to prove or disprove those theories. The theories can be very helpful as they offer ideas for further research. For example, look for the children's names of each of the brothers. (make sure they are in birth order). IF you know their wives and who the parents of each wife was, look for naming patterns. For example if Brother "A" married Suzy and Suzy's parents are known to be Robert and Elizabeth, and if Suzy named her first 4 children Robert, Catherine, Elizabeth and Joseph, you might want to consider that there is a very good chance that Joseph and Catherine are the names of her husband's parents! So that would be a theory that you could work on. You would then look for a couple with those names in Pennsylvania in 1850 and earlier.

Since you have two brothers to work with, your odds are better, and what luck if you happen to find that both brothers named children with names that could be the paternal grandparents (parents of the brothers).

You can also look on the census records you already found - check each one to see who the neighbours were. It is possible that the brothers had a married sister living near, or an uncle or aunt or some other relative. Look for patterns - do you find the same people living near them in each census?

Also take a look at church baptisms or marriages or burials or death records. Who were the witnesses, sponsors or informants? See if the brothers ever used the same people at these events, for if they did, chances are that it could be a relative. You may have to trace the witnesses back to find out how they fit into the tree (if they fit at all!)

Those are just a few ideas for you, I hope they help

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