Sunday, August 19, 2007

Filling in the Holes in My Robbins Family Tree

I mentioned in my last two blogs that I took my laptop with me on my camping trip, and used some of my downtime to input information from my hard files into my database, citing my sources along the way. It was good use of my time, because I didn't have Internet access to distract me from jumping back and forth between inputting data and looking up more records online (I tend to multitask all too often and am quickly distracted). Instead, I added many items to my To-do Lists, which are easily created for each individual in my RootsMagic software. Many of these were reminders to check online vital records indexes, especially for the states of Texas and Florida. A little lightbulb went off in my head when I realized that I had been mistakenly thinking of my Robbins family as Michiganders, instead of as Texans and Floridians. Yes, many of them were born and raised in Michigan, but my paternal grandfather's sisters and one of his brothers moved to Texas as adults, and his other brother moved to Florida. Also, my uncle's (dad's brother) first wife and their children moved to Florida after their divorce. So I had many names of aunts, uncles, and cousins to look up in databases at Ancestry.com.

Last night and today I have been visiting these databases, aided by Joe Beine's excellent Death Indexes Online and Online Genealogy Records and Resources for quick entrance to the desired online indexes. I'm also using Ancestry's US Public Records Index and US Phone and Address Directories, 1993 - 2002 to find recent addresses for my relatives. I've added quite a bit to my Robbins family tree using the above resources (citing them as I go!), along with photo captions and obituaries found in the scanned pages of my Grandaunt Joyce's scrapbook, which I recently received, and which has been the fount of recent posts on my Great-grandfather Robbins' service in the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces.

I used to be frustrated because I have been brickwalled on my Robbins ancestry at my 4th-great-grandfather, Joseph Josiah Robbins (1820 - 1905), while on many of my other lines, I've been able to zip right back into colonial America or cross the pond to Northern Europe. It has seemed strange that my maiden surname's line suddenly deadends after just a few generations back. But I realized that I really do have a wealth of information on my Robbins family, and in order to break down my brick wall, I need to invest in the time it will take to print up, download, scan, input and cite all the many documents and resources I do have. I've been fairly neglectful in attending to the details of this family, either assuming that I already know everything there is to discover, or being frustrated at the dearth of accessible records for those things I lack information on. Two of the strategies that professional researchers insist work well for breaking down our brick walls include going over and analyzing all the information one already has to discover new clues and determine what information is missing; and researching the collateral lines thoroughly. I'm hoping that my methodical steps will unearth some leads to tearing down my brick wall.
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