Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 2: Meyers Family

Noted geneablogger James Tanner wrote Building a Pedigree From Sources -- The Ultimate Challengeon his Genealogy's Star blog on 22 November 2014.  See the post for more background.

I wrote The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 1: Crawford Family yesterday,  I was able to take the paternal half of the ancestry of Betty Lee Crawford back four more generations using only Ancestry.com leaf Hints and judgment.

1)  In this post, I'm going to try to do the same thing with another family - the Frances Meyers family - in the 1940 U.S. Census.  I used a neighbor of my great-grandparents in San Diego, California - actually a renter residing in 2119 30th Street, the address where I lived from 1947 to 1968.  

Here is a screen shot of the census page from Ancestry.com:

I have highlighted Virginia Meyers on the screen above.  The household consists of:

*  Frances Meyers - head, female, white, age 48, widow, born in Washington.
*  Virginia Meyers - daughter, female, white, age 25, single, born in California.
*  Marcella Meyers - daughter, female, white, age 20, single, born in California.

The Ancestry.com indexing gave the surname as "Theyere" - I read it as Meyers.  FamilySearch indexed it as Meyers.  The first letter of Meyers does not look like any other M on the page, but it doesn't look like a T either.  I think the enumerator overwrote with the M.

2)  I entered these three persons into an Ancestry Member Tree, and added a husband for Frances named "Meyers," since she was a widow and the daughters seem to be her offspring.

A few minutes after entering the names, I received no green leaf Hints.  Three days later, there are still no green leaf Hints for any of them (I took the screen shot above today).

Apparently, there are no birth, marriage, death, census, family tree, or other record types hints for the three persons in the 1940 U.S. Census entry in Ancestry.com databases.

3)  I decided to do a Search for all three of these persons using the "Search Records" link on the profile page for Frances:

Here are the results - note the search criteria in the left-hand column, and 1,372,477 matches (two screens shown):

I didn't look at all 1,372,477 matches because I know that the best matches are almost always in the first 50 matches.

I found no other record that showed Frances with a spouse and a daughter named either Virginia or Marcella.  I found no other record for Virginia or Marcella either.  Based on what I knew (name, age, birthplace), I searched for these three females, in selected Ancestry.com databases:

*  1930 U.S. Census
*  1920 U.S. Census
*  California Birth Index, 1905-1995
*  California Marriage Index, 1949-1959, and 1960-1985
*  California Death Index, 1940-1997
*  Find A Grave index (only for Frances)

I also checked GenealogyBank, which has an excellent San Diego newspaper collection, and found nothing in the 1940-1980 time frame.

I searched FamilySearch records and found only the 1940 U.S. Census above.  There are no entries for these three persons in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

By searching in databases, I did find one City Directory for San Diego in 1941 that listed Frances Meyers residing at 2119 30th Street.

Evidently, during or after World War II, these three females either died, or married, and/or left San Diego and moved to another state where there are no online vital records on Ancestry.com.

4)  If I only used Ancestry.com, I would say that I struck out on this investigation of the ancestry of Virginia (and Marcella) Meyers.  If a client had come to me saying that Virginia was her mother or her grandmother, I would have asked for information about the family so that I could find more information about Mr. Meyers and Frances.

5)  So I've done two of these "Ultimate Challenge" searches, and have had a good experience with the first one and a total shutout with the second.

I have done two more already, and am considering doing more over the next few weeks.  To obtain a decent statistical percentage of tests like this - i.e., to be able to say that Ancestry leaf Hints can be used to find your ancestry 67.4% of the time - I would have to do several hundred.  Right now the number is 50% plus or minus about 40%.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/11/the-ultimate-challenge-building-family_25.html

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

James Tanner said...

Hello again,
My experience is similar. What seems to happen is that the "pump needs to be primed." Both Ancestry and MyHeritage seem to need some arbitrary amount of information about a family before the automatic searching kicks in and starts producing sources. In MyHeritage.com for example, I had one patron who had no results after entering both her parents and partial information on ther grandparents. I suggested adding a little bit more information on the grandmother and zap, there were over 2000 sources suggested. It does not usually happen like that, but adding just a little bit more information sometimes gets both programs going.