Answers in brick-wall cases very seldom come all at once, but they are also rarely impossible to solve.
In genealogy, the term “brick wall” is often used to refer to tough research problems, apparent dead-ends that after many hours of searching still yield no answers. Finding those elusive ancestors is one of our specialties at Legacy Tree Genealogists. There are a number of reasons researchers find their efforts stymied. Sometimes, the ancestor in question is from a foreign country and the records are in a language you can’t read. Perhaps family history is a hobby, but you just don’t have the adequate time to devote to a difficult problem outside of your other usual family and career obligations.
But even those who have spent long hours often find themselves behind that familiar barrier because the research itself is a challenge. For example, pre-1850 research in the American Deep South (states such as Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and Texas) as well as Pennsylvania and New York can be difficult because of the lack of records caused by difficulty of access, destruction by war and natural disasters, or even the fact that they were never created in the first place. Early agrarian societies were isolated, often illiterate, and independent – disinclined to make long journeys to civil authorities to register events with the government.
So why hire a professional genealogist? We deal with these issues on a daily basis, and have academic degrees, credentials, and language skills that have prepared us to approach them efficiently. Our unique qualifications lay in our ability to work around roadblocks. Many researchers limit themselves to basic sources: the census, vitals (birth and death records), and those documents indexed online. For a brick wall, creativity and fully exhaustive searches are required, and these are strategies usually beyond the means of the average hobbyist. As researchers, our collective experience has led to our finding answers through DNA testing, estate files, the social columns of newspapers (not just obituaries), county histories, tax records, deeds, funeral home data, social history, and court cases.
Often, what is needed to solve a brick wall isn’t going to be readily available. Even with the admirable and impressive digitization efforts being made by numerous entities, many crucial records are still housed solely at archives, courthouses, churches, and other repositories. They’ve never been found anywhere online, and most have never even been microfilmed. These could include religious rites, civil and criminal court records, divorce proceedings, guardianship papers, military service records, and the like.
Answers in brick wall cases very seldom come all at once, but they are also rarely impossible to solve. Often, they are the result of painstaking methodology, piecing together seemingly unrelated facts and building a case. If you find yourself stuck behind a brick wall, whether by inexperience or lack of time, or are simply wanting to have your family traditions verified, consider hiring the professionals at Legacy Tree Genealogists and letting us help you. You will have our expertise, undivided attention, and a fresh set of eyes to tackle your roadblock.