Brick Wall Busters: Going to Pieces
1/1/2008
Can't find your ancestor's parents? Our expert shows you how to break a big genealogical problem into smaller, solvable slices.

Cousins Debbie Cunningham, Deanna Culpepper and Marti Cagle keep running into obstacles as they try to identify the parents of their ancestor David Tobe Yarbrough. Appropriately, they began by collecting vital (birth, marriage and death) data and records. A family Bible shows David's birth in Florence, Ala., April 27, 1865; other records give 1866 or 1867 as his birth year. He died March 8, 1938, in Fort Worth, Texas. Debbie requested his death certificate to see his parents' names, but the informant, David's daughter, didn't know their names or birthplaces. Perhaps she'd never met her grandparents. David's obituary names only his children — no siblings or parents.

As the cousins have learned, genealogy is a giant jigsaw puzzle: You're always waiting for a clear picture to emerge. But instead of asking "What's the solution?" they can try "What's the next question?" That way, larger research questions become smaller, more easily tackled pieces. Here, we'll start them along the path to assembling their family tree puzzle.