Where To Start
I am an old man, 77 yo, trying to learn how to trace an ancestor. Furthermore, I am stuck at my great-great-grandfather, Jacob C Leonard. Likewise, I know he existed because his name is on the death certificate of my great-grandfather Jacob Henry Leonard Sr 1828-1889, but only a name, no dates. I have tried various census indexes and found several Jacob Cs, but none with a child named Jacob Henry Leonard. I have searched in Wythe and Smythe counties, particularly as the family is from these areas. I need some direction on how to do this.
Thank you very much.
It sounds like you might have to hit the films good sir. You're entering that part of your family tree, the early 1800's and earlier, where nothing comes easy and even the discovery of a single source after a weeks worth of searching is a cause for celebration. What has worked for me is looking closely at the details. I can't speak for all birth certificates but the one's from Latin America will list whether the parents were alive or deceased at the time. If not, I look at other siblings that I wasn't interested in at first. Maybe your great-grandfather Jacob Henry Leonard Sr had brothers or sisters that had more information listed on their certificates of passing or birth certificates. If you can get a year range for his birth then you can go through the films one by one and see if he pops up. Also, just because you can't find him doesn't mean you shouldn't build a profile. Build his profile and for his date of birth put about 1808 which is 20 years younger than his son unless you are aware of an older child. Sometimes when the system sees this info more hints are generated. Search for other tips that users posts because there are so many. Sometimes I search for the wives or siblings instead. The search option is only until 1885 records. Earlier than that you have to use other databases like the Catholic Church Films/records. You can see how deep this gets but it's a lot of fun and you have done a great job bringing your family tree back to the 1800's. If you have grandchildren, they already have a multigeneration ready for them to read courtesy of you. I wish I had that haha
Lastly, I take exception to you describing yourself as old. How old do you think I am? 15? 30? 45? 50? 80? 103? You never know. The oldest person alive today (Feb 2023) is 115. She could be your grandmother. Live, Love, Laugh, and Pray.1
Chas Howell ✭✭✭✭✭
@DavidLeonard35, You're not Old, just Middle Aged. You know, over 70 but under 80, right in the middle. :)4
@DavidLeonard35 Unfortunately, the name on that death certificate might not be correct. The informant may not have known or may have been confused or distraught by grief. I have many instances in my files where the informant gave the names of his/her own parents instead of the names of the parents of the deceased person.
In other words - look outside those names for possible parents.6
"In other words - look outside those names for possible parents."
Is there someplace I can go to learn how to do that? I need the skill to know how to do that. What to look for and where to find it.0
All I need to do now is find the films and dig in. The only way I can do this is by the computer as I retired to the Philippines twenty years ago and I simply cannot travel back to the USA for a hands-on search at courthouses and such as I used to do many years ago. My research was done back in the 1970s and 80s before computers so I have a lot to learn. Thanks for your in-depth answer it helps a lot. Take care.1
@DavidLeonard35 - Thank you for posting your query to FamilySearch : Community. I'm a mere boy of 74 so I'm not that far behind you. On top of all the other useful advice, have you contacted, or visited, your local FamilySearch Centre. You can search for that online.
John L. Kennedy0