Brick Walls in the Distance


NW Corner of Jefferson & Randolph in Detroit, MI, in 1934. Brian’s Blake line has origins in Detroit.


I hope everyone is having a great week! I celebrated my birthday last weekend. Thanks to my wife for making it a great time!

I continued on in my Irish 201 class this week, and the focus moved from Irish history to Irish records. Two of the main ones we focused on were civil registrations, and the 1901 & 1911 census records. I was able to validate marriages for the Lindsay line that I had previously found in Ancestry. My Blake and Lindsay families arrived in the US well before the 1901 census, but there were a few that I was never able to prove came to the US, so they may be on the census. The findings for my search were a bit surprising because I found a lot of Lindsays there at the time. I was assuming there was only my family, but it sounds like there may have been a few others.

Also over the weekend, I was lucky enough to participate in the Winter 2013 Virtual Conference. It was packed with presentations on all kinds of topics, from Ethnic research to Research tips to Technology. With a limited timeframe, I picked out 1 or 2 from each of the 3 sections to watch. The rest I hope to cover over the next week. Although I enjoyed each class I took, if I had to pick my favorites, I would go with the Italian Roots, Building a Case File for Hard-to-Find Ancestors, and Note Taking Apps courses. The Italian Roots class will be very helpful for me when I dive back into researching my own surname, as so far, much of my ethnic learning has revolved around Irish research. The Building a Case File class provided some great tips for overcoming brick walls & refreshing my approach.

Speaking of brick walls, I think one is slowly approaching in the distance for my Blake line. After a great few weeks of finds, the results are getting harder to come by. I was able to find a few small things, but nothing major. A reader commented on my blog from two weeks ago, and pointed out that Nelson named two of his children Harry and Nellie, potentially his parents’ names. We found it interesting that he wouldn’t have also named his children after his grandparents who raised him, Patrick and Eliza. And was Nelson named after his mother, Nellie? The names do seem rather similar. I also found that Eliza’s family farmed near Amherstburg in Canada, which is where she and Patrick had a summer home. Did they maybe buy the summer home from Eliza’s parents? Was Nelson maybe born there instead of Michigan, similar to his potential sister Eliza? To overcome these brick walls, I’ll need to go on some research trips to supplement my online searching.

For example, I plan on visiting a Family History Library in the near future to view some records. I hope to visit the Oak Forest Infirmary and cemetery to see if I can learn more about Nelson’s stay there up until his death. I also would like to visit Detroit and Amherstburg, where the family is from. I could visit the church they went to, visit their graves at the cemetery, walk the streets they did, and visit the local courthouses and historical centers to see what documents exist. Finally, I need to find any living relatives descended from Patrick’s children to see if maybe they have any family photos, stories, etc…

More to come in the next few weeks (hopefully). Have a great week everyone!

Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Brian Parotto of Hampshire, Ill.

Here are some of the tools Brian is using to launch his genealogy education. Check them out:

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