If a research fairy granted you a wish, what would you request?
Like many researchers, I have various angles that I’m currently pursuing on different branches. I don’t see these as tasks. I’m excited about the quest.
But, I’m also no stranger to being in a holding pattern with a few ancestors. After reviewing a number of documents that end up providing few to zero leads, sometimes you do want a magic wand.
So, when I recently saw a post in my Facebook news feed from TheRoot.com asking for questions that readers might have regarding their genealogical stumbling blocks, I immediately thought of an American ancestor of mine named Squire Martin. How could I find out once and for all if he served in the Civil War?
Squire was born circa 1830 in Virginia. But his distinguished-sounding name was not uncommon. I have wanted to learn if my Squire was the one listed among thousands of inscribed names on the The African-American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C. There was no oral history in my family that he had ever served. But it wasn’t impossible. I checked Civil War muster rolls, but the information I read about a Virginia-born Squire Martin who had enlisted was too vague. I also consulted the United States Colored Troops Institute for Local History and Family Research. One suggestion was to check pension records. Alas, my Squire wasn’t among the names in the database.
I took a chance and sent off my inquiry to The Root and was thrilled to learn that my question would be answered.
The best part about this assistance is that it comes from Harvard scholar and documentarian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the New England Historic Genealogical Society, via Gates’ weekly genealogical advice column on The Root, Tracing Your Roots. Curious about whether I now have some new discoveries from the experts to get me closer to my answer? Click here.
And if you have any brick walls or burning questions, see below. You might luck into some free advice, too.
We are looking for Tracing Your Roots questions!
-Have you had DNA testing done to determine your ethnic ancestry, and have questions about the results?
-Have you hit a dead end in tracing your roots before the 1870 Census, and wonder what to do next?
-Do you wonder if a family legend about your ancestors could be true and want to know how to research it?
-Do you need advice for using genealogy records to trace your ancestry?
Send your questions to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org!