ecause common surnames are hard to trace, I have purposely avoided tracing my Taylor ancestor (HARRIET TAYLOR) who married someone named Henry Smith. According to the wonderful genealogy the Taylor family prepared back in 1933 (1), Harriet and Henry had several children. Today I got courageous and gave this family a try.
It is not uncommon in family genealogies to find occasional errors and missing information. My Taylor genealogy indicates that one of Henry and Harriet’s children, William Smith, married a Sarah Traflet. This name was unique so I thought it would help me narrow down my William Smith. When you are searching for ancestors with common names, it is helpful to look for associates of this person with unusual names. Unfortunately, Traflet did not produce anything useful when I searched for it on the Internet. After fooling around with the spelling, I realized that the name was actually Trafelet. When I put “Sarah Trafelet Smith” into Google I came up with a Find A Grave record (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=93575352) (2) that was indeed my Sarah, and it was loaded with information about her husband, children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters. Sarah is buried at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Spartansburg, Pennsylvania, along with a number of her children (my second cousins 2X removed):
William Jacob Smith (1879 - 1967)
Eugene Gerald Smith (1884 - 1973)
Elizabeth M Smith Bennett (1887 - 1964)
Lydia I Smith Engstrom (1892 - 1975)
As I clicked on each link on the Findagrave site, I came to more and more ancestors. I now have several new names and dates to add to my family tree. That’s what you call a productive day in genealogy land.
I love exploring the resources of different states, so I am elated that I have several Pennsylvania ancestors to research. Also, I just might have to do a field trip there!
What have I learned today?
- Don’t be afraid of common surnames!
- When searching, use unique names that might be associated with your common surname ancestor.
- Be aware that names are spelled in many ways, including misspellings.
- Use family genealogies as a guide but not the letter of law.
- You have to love Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com)!
Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1200 Ornamental Letters, 2007.
Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip, Art, Full-Color Old-Time Vignettes, 2002.
Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1268 Old-Time Cuts and Ornaments, 2006.
(1) Genealogy of the John Taylor Family, compiled by Bayard Taylor, Clinton, New York, August 25, 1933.
(2) Find A Grave.com, Memorial 93575352 (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=93575352: accessed October 3, 2012), memorial for Sarah Trafelet Smith (1855-1918), Spartansburg, Pennsylvania.