Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Power of Message Boards

Have you noticed that there have been fewer messages posted on many surname and locality message boards - both at Genforum and at Ancestry? I have, at least on the ones I monitor regularly.

That is really unfortunate, since I believe that Message Boards are one of the very best research tools to use to connect to distant cousins researching the same surname or to other researchers in a locality who know more about that place than I do.

As an example: I posted a message about two weeks ago on the Iowa state message boards on both Ancestry and Genforum about the Baldwin family and inquiring about the unknown surname of Matilda who married Fred Baldwin before 1900 and resided in Howard County, Iowa.

I heard from Mary Thiele Fobian on the Ancestry board for Iowa state this week, who had found three articles from the Lime Springs Herald concerning this particular Baldwin family. One included the location of one of Fred Baldwin's brothers in 1952, the second listed Matilda's married name Cannon in an Executor's Deed in 1959, and the third was an obituary for their son Freddie Baldwin in 1962, which listed Matilda's maiden name as Wagner. It is a derivative source, secondary information and indirect evidence, but it's the first piece of evidence I have for Matilda's maiden name.

I had already looked for these people in the newspapers online at, but I obviously did not use the correct search terms. I had found other items from the Lime Springs Herald, but not these three items. My next task is to figure out why I missed them, by testing the search items out. After that, I will be happy to go look for Matilda Wagner as a young lady in the 1880 census to see who her parents might be.

This is FUN work, you know!

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