Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Friends, Associates, and Neighbors
When unable to find the missing vital details on an ancestor's life, the next best approach is to rely on what can be discovered via the folks consistently surrounding the target ancestor.
This research technique has been called by various names. Some refer to collateral research, meaning the inclusion of all siblings in researching the generation of the target ancestor. Others advocate what they call cluster genealogy, including everyone in the cluster formed around the target ancestor, whether family or not—sometimes involving a search spanning multiple generations.
Overall, though, the most commonly used moniker for such research efforts seems to be a term whose creation was credited to preeminent American genealogist, Elizabeth Shown Mills. That, of course, is the acronym of the F.A.N. Club: the research circle which includes Friends, Associates, and Neighbors.
In our search to learn more about the man I recall from stories my mother told me as a child, now that we've settled upon a possible name for him—King Stockton—I'm discovering there isn't much to be found. Never mind that the family legend is that, after slavery, he returned home to give my second great grandfather the written story of his life. I have no idea what such a book might have been called, and I certainly can't find any book with the name King Stockton listed for the author.
A possible next step would be to explore the path leading to the clusters of people around King Stockton, his life's timeline, and his neighborhoods. While I started such an exploration before leaving for my Florida research trip, I still have quite a bit more work to do to complete that effort. So let's pick up on that path, beginning today.
As I've already mentioned, I was able to locate King Stockton and his family in Wellborn, Florida, in the 1870 census. In his own household were listed his wife Lovenia, and children Manda, King, Catherine, Ella, Robert and Sweeter.
In addition to his own household, though, we can see his closest neighbor was also surnamed Stockton. Twenty year old Albert Stockton and his wife Tyra lived with their three year old daughter Mariah and infant daughter Martha. Because of Albert's age in comparison to King's, it is possible that Albert could have been King's son. Another nearby household was comprised of thirty nine year old Francis Stockton, his wife Sarah, and children James, Dora, Hester, Missouri, Colfax, and Sallie. (Note all households in the 1870 census record for Wellborn, Florida, for these families had the surname spelled "Stocton.")
All these Stockton families may well be closely related. Wellborn was a small town—still is—and the proximity of the three families' homes within this small town makes it even more likely that there is a close familial connection.
Add to that the spotting of the name Hester—an important name in that it might reveal another family connection, though that is a part of the story yet to be discussed—in the household of Francis Stockton, and I feel even more convinced of the close connection of these three neighboring families.
Yet it is not in the households containing the same surname that I find my first lead in discovering more about who King Stockton was. It was in the name of another neighboring family. That, as it turned out, was the family of forty two year old Kelly Dean, his wife Mintie, and their only child listed in the household, James. It was because of the listing of this small family that I found the only other reference to King Stockton in the vast online universe of information we researchers regularly roam, known as the Internet.
But you know how it goes: I'll have to get to that story tomorrow.