Ten Brick Wall–Homework Assignment

February 15, 2012

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 !!!!


Inferential Genealogy – Research Broadly

November 28, 2011

Its been a while since I updated this project. Haven’t stopped, but have taken a break.

In the mean time, I have been working on a Brick Wall for a Genea-Blogger, Randy Seaver. His “Brick Wall” came about the two of us using our favorite genealogy software. I have blogged about that on my Family Tree Maker blog.

This blog post is not about software, but a Road Trip I just returned from to address this brick wall.

Basically, Randy is looking for the Parents of Willam Knapp (1775 – 1856).

So, why am I interested? Easy, my wife has Knapp’s in her ancestry, and we have visited more than one cemetery looking for and at Knapp headstones.

To put this into perspective, I mapped out the Birth, Marriage, and Death Location on a Map.

William Knapp (1775-1856)


Consider: Birth 1775, Dutchess County, NY; 1804, Woodbridge, New Jersey; 1856, Newton, New Jersey.

I do NOT challenge or question any of Randy’s research. It is awesome. I have learned a couple of things from his research. My advantage, maybe, that I know these places. By car, mostly interstate, between Dutchess County and Newton is over 2 hours today. But to through in a 3 hour “detour” to Woodbridge, in the 1800’s, leaves me with some questions.

We have tracked my wife’s ancestors between the two end point a couple of time, no detours, didn’t pass go to collect our $200.00 and it’s on one road Route 94, in both New York and New Jersey. The cemetery visits were along that road. Goshen, mid-way is full of Knapp’s. More questions.

In reviewing Randy’s notes, included a comment about Dutchess County. I had one perspective of Dutchess County based on today’s maps. Not questioning the “starting” point for William, but to make sure I was looking at the Right Starting point. The pin-point on the map is close enough (for government work).

Consider this (from wikipedia)

Putnam County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York, in the lower Hudson River Valley. Putnam county formed in 1812, when it detached from Dutchess County.

OK, so now the “starting point” just grew a bunch. The good news, more places were we have found Knapps, the Bad News, more Knapps.

I need a (K) nap (p).

From my earlier experience with Baltimore, I had to get into my head the territory. (there’s a song in there somewhere). I bribed my wife into taking a road trip to see if we could find any of her Ancestors. She agreed and she took some research notes with her. That’s another story.

I did some looking at Find-A-Grave before we left. I knew that the Dutchess Genealogy Society / Library was closed today, but that was OK. I wasn’t sure where to start in Dutchess County (current county) but figured that where ever that library was, would be a good start. Find-A-Grave gave me a bunch of Cemeteries. Searched for Dutchess County for Knapp, found over a hundred possibilities, looked closer at a couple of “big hitters”. That is, a bunch of Knapps, but with 1700 headstones. Not looking for William, but perhaps a sibling, if there are any, or some other names to look for, trying to back into William’s family. Perhaps a book store or historical society looking for clues.

The clue there was to find out why William might have left Dutchess County, to head south to meet his wife. Have read some of the history of her family trying to find out if she had been somewhere before she ended up in Woodbridge. That wasn’t the case, in fact she had pretty heavy times to that area and Hackensack, New Jersey where she returned to after her husband died. So, at this point, William went south, but why.

More questions. Found an old book store, Nothing, zip, zero, Oh well. On the way to the first cemetery, we ended up on a road “New Hackensack Road” in New York. Not too far down that road was NY State Route 94. OK, what’s going on here?

Came to the first cemetery, Bethel Baptist Church of Shenandoah Cemetery. Small and very nice. My Find-A-Grave printout said there were 42 interments there, most that have been posted were, in fact, Knapps. From the parking lot in two directions, you could see Knapp headstones.

I usually try to find the history of a Church if there is one. There was a car in the parking lot, but nobody was home. Ran down my first set of batteries, had to go back to the car for the back up, and on my way back for more pictures. the Pastor of the Church walked to his car, and wanted to know if he could help. History? nope, BUT … like that word … but “I know someone who does”. Actually he gave me two names. He pointed me to a Headstone, which is where I was headed back to, and one of the names used to be the Historian for East Fishkill, which is not far from where we were. AND (more good news I hope) he is a genealogist. Quick Email to Randy for “future reference” and posted a picture to Facebook.

Isaac Knapp - Founder of this Cemetery


OK, so he died in 1859. I wonder.

Although that is where we are right now, but I just found a couple of other bits and pieces to look for.

On the trip to Poughkeepsie, I was expecting to find a Negative Source. Some hint as to why Randy hasn’t been able to find any information. But, I know have a contact who might be able to shed some light on why can’t we find William Knapp, any historical event (like a burnt court house) that causes us not to be able to find any records, why would young Knapp go down to New Jersey?

The term “I know a guy” has been running through my mind on the return home from this trip.

Lesson Learned: Keep looking. Look sideways (look for siblings or descendents of siblings), Ask a local Historian; Keep asking questions. I have the questions, but may have found someone with an answer or two.

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