While watching television the other night, I decided to do a little family history research on Google—nothing serious. I have Googled my poor family to death, so I didn’t expect to find anything new. My search was:
“Marquis ? Scripture”
As used in the above example, the question mark wild card will give you an assortment of hits with different middle names, middle initials or no middle name at all. As background, Marquis Scripture was my 2nd great grandfather. He is a bit of a mystery because his father is unknown, and he took the surname of his mother, Marilda Scripture.
The first few hits were nothing new to me, but then I came upon my hit of the century:
” Supreme Court Appellate Court Division – Page 15 – Google Books...” (1)
This search result was from the Last Will and Testament of Harriet Scripture, Marquis’ wife. (2) Harriet’s maiden name was Bowles, and she was my 2nd great grandmother. The Last Will and Testament was an exhibit to a court case in the Supreme Court Appellate Division in the State of New York filed by George R. Taylor [my great grand uncle] against Claude W. Goodenough [not my ancestor]. (3) The case involved a contract dispute over approximately fifty acres of land in Oneida County, New York. (4) I learned that the land had been in my family with various family owners from the mid-1800s to 1924. (5) There were a number of deeds attached as exhibits from different years among assorted family members.
As I browsed the document I found page after page filled with genealogical information on many people with different surnames in my family tree. There were leases, warranty deeds, quit-claim deeds, title searches, a number of Last Wills and Testaments, affidavits, the Plaintiff’s Brief and the Defendant’s Brief. I had struck pay dirt! If I had searched for these documents in the Oneida County, New York courthouse, it would have taken hours. I don’t live in New York, so going to that courthouse is not a frequent event. But, here, I had the documents delivered to my computer screen in minutes! I know that good genealogists always attempt to locate the original documents, and now, thanks to the documents being file date stamped, that task will be much easier.
So what have I learned from this event?
- Don’t stop doing occasional Internet searches on your family, because new material is posted all the time.
- Deeds are an incredible genealogical source. By looking at the neighboring landowners to a parcel of property, you may very well find a relative or ancestor.
- Legal cases are another wonderful source of ancestral information. You would be surprised how often people got into legal tangles.
- It is important to utilize wild cards in your searches because these aids hone in on the information you need to find. You’ll get better results, and it will save you time.
Blanche Cirker, ed., "1268 Old-Time Cuts and Ornaments," Electronic Clip Art, 2006, Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York.
(1) “Exhibit B,” The Last Will and Testament of Harriet Scripture, George R. Taylor, Plaintiff, against Claude W. Goodenough, Defendant, Submission of Controversy Upon Agreed Statement of Facts, O. Gregory Burns, Attorney for Plaintiff, and Pirnie Pritchard, Attorney for the Defendant, State of New York Supreme Court Appellate Division – Fourth Department, Goodenow Printing Company, Inc ., p. 15 (books.google.com/books?id=_dNcbuwGNScC : accessed 5 Oct 2014).
(4) Statement of Facts, George R. Taylor, Plaintiff, against Claude W. Goodenough, Defendant, Submission of Controversy Upon Agreed Statement of Facts, O. Gregory Burns, Attorney for Plaintiff, and Pirnie Pritchard, Attorney for the Defendant, State of New York Supreme Court Appellate Division – Fourth Department, Goodenow Printing Company, Inc ., p. 1 (books.google.com/books?id=_dNcbuwGNScC : accessed 5 Oct 2014).
(5) Ibid., Statement of Facts, George R. Taylor, Plaintiff, against Claude W. Goodenough, Defendant, p. 11.