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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Looking Elsewhere When Your Genealogy Search Comes up Empty

Susan asked
I have been trying to find my ggrandfather's ship on Olive Tree and Ancestry.com, with no luck. All I know is his name: Thomas Connors and the year he emigrated - 1854. I don't know the city he sailed to or the name of the ship. I have looked for 10 years on all the lists I could find.

He settled in Illinois which made me think he might have sailed from Ireland to New Orleans and then made his way up the Mississippi to Illinois. However, I am not able to find him on a ship from Ireland to New Orleans. Any suggestions?

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Susan. I bet you know more than you have told me. You say all you know is his name and his year of immigration. I bet you also have a pretty darn good idea of his year of birth (helpful when searching indexes!)

My first question to you is - how do you know his year of immigration so precisely? If you are relying on census details, or naturalization records, be cautious! The year of immigration is one of the most MIS-remembered dates of all. So always allow a few years on either side of a precise year.

You also say you have looked "on all the lists I could find". Since I don't know what lists you have found, I have no idea where you've looked! Have you checked microfilmed ships passenger lists? Have you checked websites such as Ancestry.com which have published all of the available ships passenger lists from 1820 on?

I would also be careful assuming he came into New Orleans. Sailing into Canada was much cheaper and you may find that is where you need to look. See Ships Passenger Lists to Canada: Filling In The Gaps for help with Canadian Ships Passenger Lists. He may also have sailed into a different port in the USA and travelled overland to his final destination.

Have you found him in 1860 census? Have you looked for naturalization records? They may show more detail that you need.

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