Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Collateral Lines:
End Runs Around Research Roadblocks

Whenever I'm stuck on researching a particular ancestor in my family's direct line, I've found the most successful tactic is to do an end run around that research roadblock. In other words, rather than banging my head against the proverbial "brick wall" which has stopped my progress, I simply sidestep the issue and continue on my way. How to do that? Simple: I research that roadblock ancestor's siblings, or collateral lines.

It's no secret that some ancestors got more "press" than others. There could be many reasons for this. Our direct line ancestor may have settled into a relatively sedate or obscure place in life, while a sibling could have stepped into the limelight with a position putting him in the crossroads of the community. Our firstborn relative might have been born, married, or died when newspaper reports did not tend to publish birth announcements or write the detailed style of obituaries which included those juicy details genealogists love to find—but the youngest sibling might have just perfectly fit that time frame.

Since my fourth great-grandfather Peleg Tilson seemed to fall into that slot of silence of which type we genealogists bemoan, I'm going to take my chances that one of his many siblings might have garnered the limelight despite Peleg's obscurity. It's time to explore Peleg's collateral lines—and if that fails us, broaden the circle even wider to include any possible Family, Associates, or Neighbors in his "FAN Club" who might lead us to a clearer picture of his own life story.

Yesterday, when we explored Peleg's entry among the Gordon Aronhime papers, in that impossible-to-read handwritten note I spotted a few names. For instance, next to an illegible code was the entry: "w/ Lemuel Tilson to Luis Bishop." Another note read, "adj Elisha Dungan's land."

While I can't say anything—yet—about Luis Bishop, a name like Lemuel Tilson most likely has a connection to Peleg. And while the Tilson Genealogy book gives Peleg's wife's name as "Rachel Dungan" rather than the more likely Rebecca, that Dungan maiden name certainly resonates in the mention of someone by the name of Elisha Dungan. Relatives?

With those clues—in the face of a research roadblock—perhaps it is time to explore what can be found both about the siblings of Peleg Tilson and his in-laws.


  1. Jacqi -

    Two interesting things pop up in a Google Search:
    1. I'm not sure exactly sure where the deed you mentioned above would have been located, but a Google search turns up Peleg and Samuel Tilson deeding land to Levi Bishop in Washington Co., TN. That seems like an interesting coincidence - or something with transcription variants? Here's the link to an index:
    2. In a Google Search for Peleg Tilson, an entry for the Sangamon Co., IL mug book turns up. You've probably seen it, but P.D. Tilson's biography is in it. He was born in Washington Co., TN and was a son of William Tilson and grandson of a Peleg Tilson who is supposedly a native of England. I think this older Peleg Tilson would have arrived well after the Mayflower. Since you are working on FANs, if any of these Tilsons are in the group you are researching, it would be well worth chasing all of them who ended up in Illinois because there are so many period mug books and newspapers recording histories of their settlers. Past and Present of the City of Springfield and Sangamon County, IL:


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