Wednesday, April 27, 2022

End of the Line


There is an ebb and a flow to genealogical research. I'm convinced of it. At times, I can rocket through resources, finding document after document confirming the whereabouts of one particular ancestor. Other times? Well, the resources just seem to dry up.

We've spent the last month following the trail of my husband's ancestor Nicholas Schneider. My hope was to discover just where Nicholas and his young family had originated in Germany, but I also promised myself I would document every step of the path that led him to his final resting place in Perry County, Ohio. While I've yet to break through that records barrier before his arrival in Philadelphia in September of 1804, I have at least traced his whereabouts all the way to Mount Pleasant Township in Adams County, Pennsylvania.

That was in 1810, according to the census enumeration of that year. Where were the Schneiders between that census and their arrival in 1804? I wasn't able to place them through any other method, which meant the next resort was to face up to the grunt work part of genealogy.

One of the best ways to find people on a year by year basis during that time frame is to refer to tax records. The down side is that taxes have never been anybody's bright shiny object; we tend to steer clear of such a dismal topic. However, if you are looking for a listing in which your (male) ancestor can appear regularly, year after year, you can't beat the drudgery of reading through tax listings.

And drudgery it is. Such records don't usually appear among those handily-indexed and searchable collections. Now that the pandemic is waning—we all hope—some digitized records previously made available online are now reverting to in-house access only.

However, I found some help through the indefatigable Kenneth R. Marks' website, The Ancestor Hunt, where he posted links to freely accessible tax records from the state of Pennsylvania. Thankfully, Mount Pleasant Township in Adams County, the 1810 home of Nicholas Schneider, was included in that list. I simply had to click through the link and be directed to the digitized pages at (And cheer that the camera icon didn't have that nasty key on top. Yet.)

I began my search with the year 1800, first year included in the collection. It soon became obvious that there were three Schneider men resident in Mount Pleasant Township, but none of them was our Nicholas. Whether Anthony, John, or Conrad "Snider" were kin to our Nicholas, I can't say—though I did go back to check the 1804 passenger list to see if any other Schneiders had sailed with Nicholas. (There were some, but not Anthony or Conrad.)

There was no sighting in the tax records of an entry for Nicholas until the year before the 1810 census where I found him. There in 1809, two lines above where Anthony's entry had been changed to label his "estate," Nicholas showed in an entry of his own. Perhaps he had been there all along, just not showing as the head of a household—but that is something I can't yet determine simply by reading between the lines.

With only two more days before the end of this research project, there are a few other tasks I can tackle, but it's safe to say this project will need to be set aside until I gain better access to record sets which may provide answers. In the next two days, we can discuss what research plans to develop for the next time I visit this family history puzzle.

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