Favorite Discovery ~ That 20 Year Brick Wall ~ #52Ancestors Week 7

favoriteMy maternal Great Grandparents Pleasant Smith and Sarah Jane Page had been a solid brick wall since I began researching over 20 years ago. Basically, all I had to go on were their names and dates of birth that had been handwritten in my baby book. I had one story about my Pleasant that my mother had told me while growing up, however, it was a wild tale that will probably never be proven. I spent so much time searching for Pleasant that I rarely looked for Sarah, but when I did nothing came up.

About 4 years ago I made the decision to make more of an effort to find Sarah. Before when I couldn’t Pleasant Smith Sarah Jane Page MLfind anything I would get frustrated and move on to my dad’s side of the family. So I began with renewed focus and determination. For weeks I searched using variations of her name, her date, and place of birth and the estimated date of marriage using my Grandfather’s birth date. I searched on many different sites but to no avail. I don’t really remember what I did at the time but suddenly their marriage information popped up. Her name was listed as Sarah J. McDowell! She had been married before Pleasant. I quickly looked for her previous husband and after I verified the information I added his name to the tree. I was surprised at all the information I found.

Sarah Jane Page HS with James NewhouseSarah married the first time when she was 16 years old. I couldn’t find a divorce record so I researched her husband, James McDowell and found he had been remarried before Sarah married Pleasant so I assumed there had been a divorce. I mentioned earlier about the wild tale I was told about Pleasant, well maybe some of it had been true. I have never found a death record or any record for him after the birth of my Grandfather. What I did find was Sarah had been married a total of 4 times, once before Pleasant and twice afterward. Her last husband James Newhouse was her longest one with 44 years of marriage and it was also the one that led me to her Fathers name!

From there I have been able to trace this line back to 1525 in England. The family arrived in Colonial America in 1645 and produced many statesmen and prominent men in the State of Virginia. Many fought in the wars that came and several served in the legislature. I am so glad I didn’t give up trying to find Sarah!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

4 thoughts on “Favorite Discovery ~ That 20 Year Brick Wall ~ #52Ancestors Week 7

  1. Congratulations Valerie, gives me hope I may someday find the origins of my great-grandfather Charles O’Neill, though with his surname I’m not expecting to ever reach even the 18th century.

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