Earlier this year, I attended the Fairfax Genealogical Society Spring Conference and there were two lectures by Thomas W. Jones that were particularly helpful: “Using ‘Correlation’ to Reveal Facts that No Record States” and “Inferential Genealogy: Deducing Ancestors’ Identities Indirectly.”
I learned that I was not doing nearly enough to get past my brick walls.
Leaving the conference with fresh ideas and enthusiasm, I decided tackle the Catherine Aspery-Murphy family line.
In a nutshell, Catherine was the wife of John William Murphy; mother to William, Harry M, John, James Joseph, May, Sarah T and four additional unknown children. She was born about May 1854 in England and arrived in America in 1892 with husband and children. They moved to Mercer County, Pennsylvania.
Most of what I know is from the 1900 census and I hate only using one record for her birth year. Catherine’s maiden name comes from three of her children’s death certificates all with independent sources. Her own death certificate has not been located and I suspect she died between 1900 and 1906 (the year death certificates were required in PA).
Reasonably Exhaustive Search
As the Genealogical Proof Standard states, we must “search beyond the person, family, event, or record of most-direct impact on the project.” So, I’m going to investigate all the other Aspery families in England and the Mercer County area. I can do this because the name Aspery is not very common. This method probably wouldn’t work for my Murphy relatives!
A quick search for Asperys in the 1861 U.K. census on Ancestry.com & FamilySearch.org comes up with 150-200 Aspery hits. A search for Asperys in the 1900 U.S. census on HeritageQuest comes up with less than 20 hits and most of them are in the same area as “my” Catherine Aspery-Murphy. One of them must be a sibling or cousin!
I’ve started a spreadsheet with possible relatives (about 30 long now, some overlapping) and will keep it growing and ruling out those that don’t match. So far there are no obvious connections to Catherine.
I’m interested to hear if anyone has a best practice or recommendation on deducing ancestors’ identities indirectly? Any thoughts on this strategy?