Most all genealogists have many Brick Walls, so what is the best way to knock a hole in that wall and go on to the next brick wall? I recently read an article on the Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog by Brenda Joyce Jerome.
Brenda's first suggestion is to define the problem. Pick one or two ancestors to work on, don't jump around from one ancestor to another. I know that is hard to do, when I first started I jumped all over the place from one grandparent or great grandparent to another and while that worked for a while I eventually ran into brick walls on all my lines. Some of the lines are pretty long and there is a possibility I will never find any more information on those lines due to very poor records back that far, but some are pretty short also.
I finally settled on two lines I want to find out more on, one is the Chandler's in early New England, and the other is my Hellenbolt line in New York before 1800. I had found my Richard Hellenbolt in an early Minnesota census and it said his wife Rhoda had been born in Canada, and he was born in New York about 1815. So now I have a German sounding surname and he went to Canada and found a bride. Wonder if he was a Hessian soldier that the British brought to America to fight the colonists in the Revolution and then his family moved to Canada after the Revolutionary War with other loyalists. I had jumped to New York to check the 1810 and 1820 census to find Richard and his family, and guess what I found? No Hellenbolts in either census. What was the record I should have looked for? Where was it located? What office or archive has the record I need? How do I get a copy?
The record I really needed was the marriage certificate for Richard and Rhoda, but where to look? Canada is a large country and I did not have a clue where to start. A friend asked me if I needed any thing looked up as she was heading for the Allen County library at Ft. Wayne and I said for her to see if she could find something on Richard or Rhoda Hellenbolt. She sent me an E-Mail a few days later saying she had found in a Canadian index a marriage for Richard and Rhoda Hellenbolt at Hamilton Ontario Canada. Well the LDS had filmed the marriage certificates for Hamilton Ontario, so I ordered the film from Salt Lake City at my local Family History Center, and when it came in I found the marriage certificated for Richard and Rhoda (Preston) Hellenbolt. On the way home I was thinking maybe I am related to Sgt. Preston of the Yukon.
By concentrating on one surname, I found Rhoda's maiden name and where they were married that knocked a big hole in one brick wall, but I still do not know anything about Richard's parents. I did find out they were not loyalists, and that three Hellenbolts fought for the New York militia during the Revolution. Now I need to find which of the three I am related to. Finding that marriage knocked a small hole in Richard's brick wall, so what record do I need to look for to knock that brick wall completely down? Where is it located? How do I get a copy?
Just because you are concentrating on one line it does not mean you can not check new sources when they become available. When the 1930 census came out I stopped all my research to find my parents and grandparents and then went back to researching Hellenbolts. So define the problem, concentrate on one or two ancestors and you too might knock down a few brick walls.