If you are like most researchers, you have a blank space where you record the place of birth, or marriage, or death of one of your ancestors. Although you know where they lived all their life, they just don't appear in the correct records of their home county.
Rather than decide some records have been lost, it's time to expand your research boundaries. Consider the following:
1. Could your ancestor have been born at a grandparent's home in a different county or even a different state? It was not unusual for a pregnant woman to visit her family for assistance at the birth of her child.
2. Check adjoining counties for marriage records. Oftentimes it was closer to go to the county seat of an adjoining county that to the county seat of the home county.
3. Rivers were liquid roads and meant to be traveled. Check county records on the other side of the river ... or down the river ... or up the river. This is especially true if a county on the other side of the river had a reputation of being a "Gretna Green." An example is Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois, where so many Kentucky couples went to marry. Couples from Crittenden County, Kentucky often went to Hardin County, Illinois and Livingston County, Kentucky couples often ran off to Pope County, Illinois to marry. Couples from Union and Webster Counties, Kentucky often married in Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana.
4. If you can't find a death record for your ancestor where he lived all his life, check the areas where his children lived. Perhaps a child took in his parent to care for him during his last days or maybe he died in a hospital in the nearest large town.
It's time to expand the boundaries in your research. Remember county and state lines as well as rivers were not barriers and begged to be crossed.
Copyright on text and photographs
by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog