Ten Brick Wall–Homework Assignment

Why listen to Webinars?

I have been following the Legacy Family Tree Webinars for a while. Each is rewarding as I learn something from each one. I have heard some of the presenters speak online, and in person. Today was no exception.

I have had the honor of speaking with and hearing Marian Pierre-Louis a number of times, and again, learn from her each time. Today that topic was Ten Brick Wall Tips for Beginners. It’s currently available to listen to on the Legacy Family Tree website.

She has a number of Blogs, that I’ll mention here. Each are worth taking a look at:

However, this one was different for me. If you have been following this blog, I have spent some time talking about a Brick Wall for another Genea-Blogger, Randy Seaver. His brick was is to find the parents of William Knapp (1776-1857). I was hoping that I had missed one or more of her Ten Brick Wall Tips. After reading the research of Randy for William, he certainly covered them. And he did. But his brick wall, for me, is a teaching experience. Give me some experience is researching a Brick Wall.

For me, this webinar was a test. Marian mentioned a couple of times to Review Your Documentation. What I have been doing on this project is reviewing research that has already been done, then to create my own research to see if there was anything, any record, any document that hadn’t been looked at. Randy had great documentation. But, I had to find something new, or at least try to find something.

Marian talked about Verbally Discussing your Research and to Blog Your Brick Wall. Although Randy and I didn’t physically talk, until early February, email and his family file is how this step was accomplished.

But, let me step back a moment. I was looking to see how I really got started with this brick wall. I posted this Blog post in August, 2008 and the first comment was from Randy.


He mentioned that his was researching the Knapp and Auble surnames in Sussex County, New Jersey. Two things struck me, Sussex County is the next county to the north of what I live AND my wife has Knapp’s in her family. We have visited Cemeteries in North Jersey and at least one County Historical Society along the way.

I did a series of about 25 Blog posts on how I use the Family Tree Maker program with this Brick Wall.

For example: Marian suggested we use a Map. There is the Blog Post I did using a Map for this Brick Wall


The blog will give more details, but the Red Box in the upper Right is where William Knapp was born (Dutchess County) and he died in Newton, NJ. The red arrow showed his movement to Middlesex County NJ, where he met and married Sarah Cutter, then in 1823 moved to Newton.


The Blue Line is the Direct route between the two places. (Birth and Death). Having done some research with my wife, her Knapp’s followed that Blue Line and State Route 94 connects those two places.

One of the Question, thus far unanswered, WHY Dutchess County to Middlesex County, then Sussex County?

Marian shared several ways that she tracks what she has and hasn’t looked at. I did that with my To Do or Task List.


In her talk, Marian suggested to create a Time Line. In fact, this was very helpful. One of the issues with this brick wall, was that William and Sarah Knapp weren’t showing up in Census Records. What we did have was Birth Dates and Places for the children.


We can see that William Knapp (son) was born in Woodbridge, New Jersey, then Manning was born in Newton, New Jersey.

Why NOT in Census Records was a question?

A review of the Timeline for Sarah Cutter Knapp (Williams wife) didn’t show much, but still thinking Census, a look at Sarah’s father’s Timeline may show us something.


So, he died in 1823, within a month after William, the son was born. Were they living with Sarah’s parents between 1804, when William and Sarah were married and when they moved to Newton?

One of the reasons, besides the challenge, is that I AM familiar with the Geography where William Knapp lived and died. The question about Why did he move from NY to NJ is one of them. We’re talking about 1777 – 1804. What means of transportation, beside the Why move question. By road, not very easy. BUT, as Marian pointed out, the River, Hudson in this case might have been the most direct route between NY and NJ at that time.

Might his trade, Shoemaker, play a role in this? Don’t know the answer to that yet, but not far from where William was married is Perth Amboy, then a seaport. To ships need folks involved with leather work?

The Place Names haven’t changed much, BUT what did change was that Dutchess County was the Place where William was born. However, later Dutchess County spun off what is now Putnam County. So WHERE, exactly he was born now doubled in size and where the records might be found.

In one of Randy’s blog posts brought up the Naming Patterns that Marian talked about. Randy and I both have reviewed that several times. We do have one unique name of Williams children. Not luck there either.

Marian talked about “Get Local”. That is where I come in. I can get to the Historical Society in Newton in about 20 minutes, and have done that a couple of times.

They have a large library of documentation that is NOT online. That was just confirming what Marian told us. The Knapp Lateral file had 3 or 4 pieces of paper in it.

On my first visit to the Historical Society, I was asked what I was looking for, and I told the gentleman. Sitting at the table, with his laptop computer, a few minutes later, a voice said “you won’t find that information on his death record”. I was looking for Williams parents. Huh? On this laptop, within a minute or two, he noted what records were in the New Jersey Archives.

Needless to say, I did take a day trip to the NJ Archives in Trenton, NJ and found the records “laptop man” had said. The column for the Parents Name was blank. The record I was looking at, was the only record about William that we have been able to find. Sure enough that box was blank. Did William even know who his parents were?

Looked for Probate Records, while at the Archives. No such luck. I did look for several other records, with very little luck. The unlucky records were NOT required by the state at the time, but might be held at the County.

Wasted trip to the Archives, No. But more negative evidence.

Returning to the Historical Society, laptop man, specialized in Deeds. The one thing that hadn’t shown up. So, my question were several. Why weren’t his parents listed, maybe the provider of the information didn’t know. OK, I’ll take that.

There were records of where William and his family lived. In fact, it was just down the street from the Historical Society. But no Deeds. However, there was a transaction that said “Where William Knapp currently resides”. So, no probate, no deeds, may indicate that he never owned property.

While listening to the webinar I am pretty sure, we (between Randy and I) used all 10 Tips for Brick Walls. Looking forward to the Intermediate Class which will come later in the year. Can’t wait.

Lesson Learned: Review, Review, Review and Don’t Stop your research Short.

For me, doing this blog post was one of those reviews to go back and see what else I missed.

Finally, Thank you Marian !!!!


6 Responses to Ten Brick Wall–Homework Assignment

  1. Russ, this was a great follow up to Marian’s webinar today! I really enjoyed your comparisons with her webinar, wonderfully done!

  2. Russ,

    Some brick walls are really tough. You’ve done a great job going over stuff. I’ll be talking about cluster genealogy in my next talk. Have you examined the people in his town in Dutchess County to see if any of the same people ended up in Newton, NJ? Now this is the fun of genealogy. You just have to keep going until you find something! 🙂

    • Marian,

      Dutchess County, back then, was very large. (now two counties). In fact, I did GO to Dutchess County to see what I could find. I did a number of searches on Find-A-Grave, looking for those clusters. Found one, took many photographs (blogged about that) of every Knapp in the Cemetery, and there were a bunch. In fact, one of the Knapps founded the cemetery.

      This might have been a good place, and it still may be, but need to find an old County Historian who may also be doing genealogy and knows the Knapp surname.

      The founder of the Cemetery is about the right age of William, so there may be some relationship. Census Records and other Family Groupings / Naming patterns don’t fit.

      We even have a 900 page printed Knapp book, to try to put things together. Randy has documented that, and I have been through the book as well.

      The difficult piece is “missing” information. That is different, to me, then Negative Information. For example: no probate, no deeds was Negative, in that we think we know that he didn’t own any property. That one deed that said “where William … resides” was information.

      I read the Death Ledger Entry born in Dutchess County, with no parents name, as “we think he was born in Dutchess County and don’t know his parents name”.

      IF we had something a little more specific about Dutchess County, we could look at the pattern of movement. In fact, I think I mentioned that other Knapp’s did move from Dutchess County, across (current RT 94) into Newton. But, William does not appear in that group. He went south.

      Looking forward to Cluster Genealogy. I am guessing that is a relative of FaN.

      Thank you,


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