If you have information, stories, photographs, etc., to share about anyone in my family, please contact me - howardka at earthlink.net. If you use anything from this blog, please contact me for permission to post/use elsewhere. I don't mind sharing but would like credit for these original posts and family photos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Researching My People

Embarrassing as it may be, I'm showing you where I do my genealogy work at home. It's not a pretty sight, but I get things done. Under the pile of papers on the left of the desk by the phone is my large portable scanner. The papers on top are copies of research my Uncle Henry and Aunt Nita did on the Jowers family and the Gilley family. The very top paper is a copy from the Gilley Family Bible mentioned in earlier posts. You can see my computer, small red speakers, my tea mug, printer, trays for paper and research, various genealogy records, my clock, lamp, and various other stuff. The banker's box under the table held the treasures from Uncle Henry and Aunt Nita that Cousin Jane loaned me. (The box has since been returned.) The bottom drawer on the right holds my paper files. There's not a flat surface I can't cover well!

I wish I could say I was a very organized researcher. I'm not. I'll give you an example by telling you about the research I did on Sunday, January 29. I started out by working on one of my private Ancestry dot com family trees. My plan was to add more family members to Thomas Gilley's family (my great great grandfather, 1822-1898). I added all his children's names, with the exception of my great grandfather, Thomas Gilley, Jr., who was already in the tree. Then I started saving various records -- mostly federal census records, some photos and a few other things -- to some of the people in the tree to provide documentation for residences, approximate birth years, Civil War records, and more.

I was doing fine keeping to my plan until. . . I reread a note someone else had uploaded to Ancestry trees which had to do with my great grandfather, Thomas Gilley, Jr. He obviously had dictated an affidavit  for some purpose about his deceased cousin, Rev. J. B. Bryan, and then he signed it. He had mentioned that his father and J. B. Bryan's mother were brother and sister. I realized not only did I not know who this sister was, but I didn't have any information about their parents or other siblings. (I was able to find out later from another person who is researching the Gilley family that Thomas Gilley's sister was Martha Jane Gilley Bryan.)

Statement Dictated and Signed by Thomas Gilley, Jr. 1930

It didn't take long for me to abandon my original plan and start looking for my 3rd great grandfather. I love the hunt for people most of all. I won't give all the details but I went down lots of rabbit trails and I think I've found my great great great grandfather, Leroy Gilley and his wife, Mary. (I'll leave looking for her family to another day.) I started my search in Georgia because I knew Thomas Gilley (1822-1898) was born in Georgia two years after the 1820 census. Most likely his family was in living there when the census was taken.

I found Leroy Gilley in the 1820 census in Montgomery County, Georgia. He was named in the census, being the head of the household. There was a total of 6 persons in his household: 3 free white males under 10 (sons), 1 free white male 26-44 (Leroy), 1 free white female 16-35 (his wife), and 1 male slave under 14.

1820 US Census, Montgomery County, Georgia

I then looked for the 1830 Georgia census. Thomas Gilley was born in 1822 in Georgia, so I figured the family might still be there when the 1830 census was taken. I didn't find anything. Then I searched the Alabama 1830 census and came up empty-handed there as well.

My next step was to go look for Leroy Gilley in the 1840 census. I found a family in Dale County, Alabama that seemed to fit: 1 free white male under 5, 1 free white male 5-9, 1 free white male 10-14, 1 free white male 40-49 (Leroy), 2 free white females 5-9, 1 free white female 10-14, 1 free white female 15-19, 1 free white female 40-49. What happened to all those sons born between 1810-1819 that were in the 1820 census? Well, they were in their 20's to 30's by 1840 and most likely had their own families and places in the census. It's possible that some of the other Gilleys on this page are Leroy's sons. I'll tackle that research another day.

1840 US Census, Dale County, Alabama

If you're wondering how I came to the conclusion that these nameless censuses, except for the named head of the household, were my ancestors, I'll tell you. The 1850 census recorded the names of everyone in each household for the first time. Looking at several 1850 censuses for Dale County, Alabama, finding out a few names of Leroy's children and his wife helped me be almost certain I had the right family. I still have more work to do and I think I'm on the right track.

After I got distracted from my original intent of posting documents to my family tree on Ancestry dot com, I did manage to stay with the new research trail and where it took me. I worked for several hoursthat night, and . . . I'll tell the rest of the story in another post. I'll be able to name names then.