Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Grunt Work of Next Steps

Sometimes, genealogical research flows smoothly and everything falls nicely into place. Other times? Those are the times a researcher wishes for the ability to travel to do on-site research. Sometimes, the wonder of online access loses its luster.

Now that I've reached that third part in my process to connect myself—and my prodding sister, incidentally—to ancestral passengers on the Mayflower, I'm languishing in the lack of documentation for my Davises in Tennessee.

Granted, the Mayflower Society directs applicants to hold off on the documentation part of the process until the original presumption has been properly vetted. But you know me: I can't wait. This is going to be a challenge to obtain the type of documentation I know most lineage societies will want to see. And challenges take time to overcome.

Meanwhile, it isn't every day that I pass through the state of Tennessee. Nor, when I go, do I customarily head to tiny Erwin in the northeastern portion of the state—last time I touched down in Tennessee, I flew to Nashville, a long way from either Unicoi County or its parent county, Washington County. To get there for research purposes would take planning.

At a point like this, it's easy to lose focus on what the appropriate next step might be. When nothing seems to surface, the feeling can strangely be much the same as when everything seems to surface: it's overwhelming.

Time to sit down and draw up a genealogical Venn diagram of what I have and what could possibly be found—if such a document even exists. In that process, a tally of which online resources might produce such documents would also be a handy inventory to keep.

I once had a professor in college who called this disorienting stage of research the "milling about" stage—not really sure which way to head or what approach to take for definitive results. While I'm not exactly preparing to write a term paper, this wandering research malaise has the distinct feel of such a dilemma.

Perhaps, given this uncertainty of the next best step to take, another approach might be to explore that little hint that I unearthed last week, while scouring online resources for any mention of the Davis surname in that little pocket of early settlements in northeastern Tennessee. The discovery of a Baxter Davis named in the generation previous to the appearance of my James Davis might actually help me stumble upon some other helpful records.

Maybe this is the best approach to take, while puzzling over those genealogical Venn diagrams to set my research course for the next step in the process. At least, in retrospect, it will seem to be the "best approach" if I manage to actually find something that connects me with the right Davis line in that early state history of Tennessee.

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