Inferrential Genealogy Process – Case Study in 2nd Life: Step 2

This is step two of the Inferential Genealogy Process as introduced in the 2nd Life Genealogy Group.

Inferential Genealogy Study Group in 2nd Life – Stated Goal

Step 1: Start with a Focused Goal

As Dr. Jones points out, there are typically two types of Genealogical research goals. 1) Identity – the research is trying to determine who. among several candidates, was your known ancestor, and 2) Relationship – who was the parent, wife, child, etc. of your known ancestor.

In my Case Study, I chose to identify a Civil War Veteran who I knew nothing about except that his Name contains two surnames that appear in my family line and they both appear in the same area, that is Baltimore, Maryland.

As soon as I heard this name, in the History Channel’s program on Gettysburg, I opened by genealogy software program to see IF I already had this person in my database. Nope, wouldn’t be that simple, but as I suspected, I did have Howard and Ridgely in my files, just not D. Ridgeley Howard.

I did some “normal” searching for “normal” genealogy records to see if I could quickly identify who this might be. I thought that if I could find him in the 1840, 1850, 0r 1860 Census record, I would be able to find a link into my file that way.

In keeping with this Inferential Genealogy Process, Dr. Jones has a 2nd step in his process.

Step 2: Search Broadly

He suggests the following:

  • Time – Search from Birth to Death, then at least a decade before and after to make sure we don’t miss some important information. In the 2nd Life discussion this evening, it was suggested a Generation before and after the lifespan of the individual
  • Location – Don’t focus on the specific location of known places where your ancestor had been located. Reminding us of destroyed records, jurisdiction changes over time, and where information was recorded
  • Associates – A reminder that some information about OUR ancestor may be found in some one else’s record.

This all makes sense to me. My initial search of census records went back at least two generations and forward at least three.

What is known, so far, is a Name, that he was in the Civil War in the Battle at Gettysburg and that he was from Baltimore, Maryland. Since 1863 was the year, I searched for Census Years without putting any limitation on the Years, but did limit the search to Maryland. So, for that type of record, I should have found him in the 1840 or 1850 census record. Might have been in the 1860 census record, but wasn’t counting on it.

So, the plan is to widen the research. It would appear that Military Records would be a good place to look and / or Cemetery Records.

As they say, “been there, done that”. There did not appear to be any Military Records nor Cemetery Records in the initial search.

The term “Associates” is interesting in this case and that, I think, will be my next place to search. Looking for just the Howard Surname and the Ridgely (Ridgeley) Surnames, without looking for any given names, may show a Household in Maryland that may have a son, where there was a Howard / Ridgely marriage. There have some “usual” naming conventions that were in both family lines in my database.

The next hint may be the “James Wallace” that was mentioned in the story. Looking at his military records may lead to finding the military unit that his ancestors were in, serving under George Washington in the Revolutionary War. One record for James does show two more generations of names of his ancestors.

That’s two “associates” hints that I will look into.

The whole story about what was going on in Maryland at the time of the Civil War may  also shed some light as to where to look. I probably knew this, but it hasn’t been obvious to me until now, that “brother fighting brother” was true during this war. But, I didn’t realize until now, that Maryland was one of the states where this was a reality.

I think that the timeframe that I have been looking at is OK. That is, 1820 – 1920, should be OK for finding information on D. Ridgeley Howard. From what I have found on him, was that he was a Private at Gettysburg. So that time frame would probably be a generation before his birth and after his death.

The location is pretty steady for focusing on Maryland. However, there may be some military records, that I haven’t found yet, that may indicate him being wounded or captured, before or after Gettysburg.

On to broadening my research.


One Response to Inferrential Genealogy Process – Case Study in 2nd Life: Step 2

  1. Thanks for posting your thought processes on your “Inferential Project”. I’m looking forward to where this leads you.

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