Have you ever spent hours in genealogical research, only to come up with…nothing? I may have talked about the need to occasionally hit the reset button and reorient to that original set of research goals. Evidently, I fell far too short of what was actually needed. I don’t need a reset button; I need a serious process break.
Maybe even more than that.
Take today. All I wanted to do was find a few, simple details on the family of Ella Shields Bean’s husband, Leon. Sounds easy, right?
You may be envisioning experiences of ancestors dropping from sight, going AWOL from the obligatory census records. Or changing names. Or having one of those impossible-to-spell-right surnames.
While I sympathize with you if that is your lot in genealogical research life, none of that is my case. After all, I’m researching a name spelled B-E-A-N. How hard can that be?!
Besides, I know exactly where this family lived: Redwood City in San Mateo County, California. And, for Leon’s sister, once she got married, life entailed a move to nearby San Francisco. Nothing convoluted. Nothing mysterious.
But aggravating enough to frustrate me. In fact, I’m shouting right now…I’m just sparing you the drama of reading it in all caps.
Hear me out, now: I’ve paid my research dues. I’ve cranked those old, broken-down microfilm readers. I’ve sneezed my way through tissue boxes accompanying my trips to dusty archives. I’ve…
Well, let’s put it this way: I’ve paid my dues trying to circumvent the kinds of search results you get when you are researching surnames like “Flowers,” for instance. I get that. Looking for John Flowers’ obituary got every florist’s ad in the entire Ancestry.com historic newspaper collection. And every funeral notice that began, "In lieu of flowers...." Getting to pay dirt takes persistence when your relatives have names that just happen to be real words in English. Never mind Search Engine Optimized words in English.
And today? I’m looking for the Bean family. Am I making any headway? Of course not!
Yes, yes, I admit that researching a first name like Leon helps eliminate some of those thousands of worthless hits in the search results. But this time, I’m not looking for Leon; I’m looking for his family.
Think about it: when searching for Leon Bean’s sister, how many false leads do you think you’d get, if his sister’s first name was Blanche?