Ruth's Genealogy

“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

Every genealogist has tales of surprise findings or coincidences when climbing the family tree. What is your most memorable serendipitous discovery? Did it involve ancestors in your tree, living folks or both? How did this surprise affect your research and does it still impact you today?

Sometimes serendipity is what you make it…

According to my great-grandmother Mary Tennessee Turner’s family Bible, my great-granduncle Isaac T Turner died on Christmas Day, 1900 at the age of 32. Kinda young, but then life was not easy in turn-of-the-century Hill County, Texas. So, what happened to young Isaac?

I had been researching my Turner line for several months and other than that Bible entry, the only document I had located for Isaac was his 1900 Federal Census enumeration: age 32, single and a merchant of confections.

Not much to go on, but maybe I could find a newspaper ad for his business. I searched GenealogyBank’s Dallas Morning News archives, on the off-chance that there would be an advertisement for a Hillsboro candy shop (Hillsboro is about 60 miles southwest of Dallas). With a little luck…

But after numerous searches using different keywords, I had gotten nowhere. Then I suddenly realized something: I was searching for the given name of “Isaac”. But in his census entry, he was recorded as “Ike”.

So I tried “Ike Turner”, and to my surprise this is what was returned:

I had been doing a lot of Turner research and really hadn’t found much beyond the usual census mentions and was getting pretty frustrated. I just needed something to reignite my passion for the hunt, and there it was!

This incident occurred a couple of years ago, and serves as an excellent reminder to not give up on research, because you never know what you will find!


52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

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