Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 3: Alford 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 on Monday,  I was able to take the paternal half of the ancestry of Betty Lee Crawford back four more generations using only leaf Hints and judgment.  Yesterday, I wrote The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 2: Meyers Family and was unable to find any other records about the three known persons in the census record.

1)  In this post, I'm going to try to do the same thing with another family - the Louise L. Alford family - in the 1940 U.S. Census.  I used a neighbor of my great-grandparents in San Diego, California - actually a renter residing in 2123 30th Street, one of the properties owned by my great-grandparents.  

Here is a screen shot of the census page from

I have highlighted Jeanine Louise Alford on the screen above.  The household consists of:

*  Louisa L. Alford - head, female, white, age 38, a widow, born in Ohio.
*  Jeanine Louise Alford - daughter, female, white, age 9, single, born in California.

After entering Louise and Jeanine into the Ancestry Member Tree, I had only one green leaf Hint - for the 1930 U.S. Census that identified Charles R. Alford, born in about 1905 in North Carolina as the husband of Louise.  After four days, there were no more green leaf Hints.  I thought I was stuck on essentially empty for this family line.

2)  Today, I decided to Search for records for Charles, Louise and Jeanine.  I struck out on Louise and Jeanine - they may have died, may have moved away from California, or may have married someone and not left much of a trail in Ancestry's online databases.

I had more luck with Charles R. Alford.  There were more records for a man with that name born about 1908 in North Caroline, including the 1920 census, 1910 census, California death index, a Find A Grave record and several Ancestry Member Trees where he was a son without a spouse.  Using those records, I was able to go back three more generations in about an hour of work.

Although the 1940 U.S. census says that Louise Alford is a widow, there is a California death record and a Find A Grave memorial for Charles Ransom Alford who died in Los Angeles County, California in 1982.  There are several City Directories in the 1950-1960 time frame where Charles R. Alford has a wife named Virginia in Southern California, so he may have married again.

Here is the Family View of the Ancestry Member Tree I created, using just leaf Hints and judgment, for Jeanine Alford:

Here is the Pedigree Chart for Jeanine Alford showing the bare ancestry of her mother.

3)  If I only used Hints after I created the persons in the Member Tree, I would say that I struck out on this investigation of the ancestry of Jeanine Alford and her parents.  If a client had come to me saying that Jeanine was her mother or her grandmother, I would have asked for information about the family so that I could find more information about the parents and Jeanine herself.

However, performing a Search on for the father provided enough records, which led to Suggested Records and Hints, to help me fill out the Alford portion of the tree.

4)  So I've done three of these "Ultimate Challenge" searches, and have had a good experience with the first one, a total shutout with the second, and had to work to succeed on the third one.

I have done one more study 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 67% plus or minus about 20%.

The URL for this post is:  

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Lisa Gorrell said...

I am surprised that Jeanine didn't show up in the California Birth Index. I suspect that the "leaves" are based on what records have been attached to other member trees.

bgwiehle said...

You've got 3 strikes against this family in your experiment - uncorrected indexing errors, tracing females with multiple name changes, and records limited to ancestry.

1) The daughter's name is looks like and should have been indexed as Jeanne (ancestry has Jeamme, your reading was Jeanine).
2) Marriage search at FamilySearch for given name Louisa, born 1900-1910, spouse surname Alford, with "any place" California, returns in 1st place
Louise Carolyn Litsch & Chas Ransom Alford
California, County Marriages, 1850-1952
marriage: 11 May 1929 Los Angeles, California, United States
her parents: F G Litsch & Louise Wilker (from Ohio & Indiana, respectively)
his parents: R H Alford, Lula Nicholson (both from NC)
[there are 2 images; she was born abt 1905 Middletown, Ohio, he abt 1905 Kenly NC)
3) Birth search for Jean* born 1930-1932 California, with mother Litsch, returns
Jeanne Louise Kipp
California, Birth Index, 1905-1995
birth: 15 September 1930 San Diego, California, United States
[California Births database is available at multiple sites]

The above information may get you a little further, and the name discrepancies explain why you had problems.

SearchShack said...

This is how we started folks with genealogy at our local celtic festival genealogy booth. We had the visitors write out what they knew about their family and then used FamilySearch or Ancestry to see if we could find some sourced information about the family members they already knew. I was surprised that about 80% of the time we were able to quickly find information about their family members and about 60-70% of the time we found an existing tree or at least others researching the family lines. (worked best if the family came from a small town!). We did discuss the need for them to validate the information they found person by person with an overall goal of generating an interest in genealogy for the visitors to our festival.

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