Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):
1) Who is your MRUA - your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number on your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name.
2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don't you scan it again just to see if there's something you have missed?
3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?
4) Tell us about him or her, and your answers to 2) and 3) above, in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google Plus.
Number 26 on my Ahnentafel List is Devier James Lamphear Smith. I don't know who his parents are - they are Numbers 52 and 53 on my Ahnentafel List. Here are the vital records, and a synopsis of what I know about Devier's parentage:
Devier James Lamphere alias Smith was born 07 May 1839 in Henderson, Jefferson County, NY, and died 01 May 1894 in McCook, Red Willow County, NE. He married Abigail A. Vaux 04 April 1861 in Rolling Prairie, Dodge County, WI, daughter of Samuel Vaux and Mary Underhill. She was born 28 October 1844 in Aurora, Erie County, NY, and died 11 September 1931 in San Diego, San Diego County, CA.
Based on the available personal, public and government records, this person was born with the name Devier James Lamphear, probably in Jefferson County, New York. His birth parents have not been identified to date. He was adopted by Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith of Henderson, Jefferson County, New York, before 1843, when the Smith family moved from Jefferson County, New York to Dodge County, Wisconsin. In March 1866, Devier was granted a name change, by the Wisconsin State Senate and Governor, to Devier J. Smith from Devier Lamphear (although all available records listed him as Devier J. Smith), and he was named as an adopted son in the will of Ranslow Smith.
My hypotheses are that (1) Devier's father had the surname Lamphear (and variants) or (2) that his mother, with the surname Lamphear, had him out of wedlock and gave him up for adoption.
I have written extensively about my search for the birth parents, ostensibly named Lamphere/Lamphear/Lamphier/Lamfear or Lanphere/Lanphear/Lanphier/Lanfear or any other reasonable spelling of the surname, in Jefferson County, New York in the 1840 time frame. One of my posts, which links to others, is Finding Lamphears in Jefferson County, NY - Post 3.
In my search, I have exhausted the court records in Jefferson County NY that are available on FHL Microfilm, the history books, the online databases, the land record indexes, etc. I've also exhausted the Dodge County, Wisconsin records available on FHL Microfilm and online databases. I visited several repositories in Dodge County and the Wisconsin State Historical Society in Madison last September, and found no records, newspaper articles or vertical files in those places that identified Devier's birth parents. That leaves other unfilmed, unindexed, non-digitized records that might be found in historical societies, genealogical societies, local libraries, and state archives, and private collections.
If anyone has other research ideas, I would love to hear them!