Large could mean so many things. Someone with a large family, a large piece of land, or someone with a large head (joking), however, I do have all 3 of these in my family. Most of my ancestors had between 10 and 15 children, many were landowners of big estates, and yes a few had large heads. Trying to decide which of these to write about was difficult. At least until I decided to go another direction. So here is my interpretation of large.
I have many large gaps in my family trees. Too many of my ancestors seem determined to remain a mystery. They just appear in the tree, so to speak, because they have a couple of documents to prove they existed. However, there are no birth or death records to divulge where they came from and when they left.
One example is my maternal Great Grandfather, Pleasant Smith. I have an iffy birth date for him because it was written in my baby book family tree. My mother filled in the little tree with names, dates of birth, and place of birth for both her side and my dads’ side. All of the information on the others in the tree have proven correct, so I assume his is also. The only documents I have found for Pleasant is his marriage record, his name on my Grandpas’ death certificate and also on Grandpas’ Social Security application. I can find nothing else that can be proven about him!
Another example, also on my maternal side is my 2nd Great Grandfather, Peter Walt. I found his “date of birth” on the 1900 Census. It states he was born in November of 1839 and his place of birth is Canada. It’s not definitive proof, but it is a start. I have his marriage record index information but no actual certificate. I did find his Civil War Draft Registration Record that confirms his age and where he was from. I am assuming he died between 1910 and 1920 because his wife is listed as married in the first and widowed in the second. Missouri has wonderful death certificates after 1910 so if he did die after that I should be able to find a record, but no! This is all I have for him.
My last example is my paternal 2nd Great Grandmother, Elisia Jane (White) Register. All I have for her is 2 Census records, one for 1880 and the other for 1900. I have her month, year, and place of birth from the last Census. It states she was born in November 1833 in Missouri. Missouri had been a State for about 4 years at the time of her birth and I can find no record for her. Her marriage date is also taken from this Census as it states how long they had been married. There are no death records to be found either.
I have a lot of “large” gaps the farther back in time that I go. These I would expect. Yes, they bother me, but not as much as these 3 that are so close to me. Maybe one day I will stumble upon something that will kick the doors wide open for me to find what I am missing. A girl can dream, can’t she?
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.