Monday, January 19, 2015

REVIEWING A RANDOM PERSON IN MY DATABASE–How much can I learn in an hour?

This is a Saturday Night Fun challenge from Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musing’s blog.  Since it was quite late on Saturday, when I saw this, I decided to take on the challenge and post it today.
Here is the mission directly from Randy’s post:

1) We're going to do a little bit of Semi-Random Online Research tonight...
2)  Go to your family tree database of choice (you know, like RootsMagic, Reunion, Ancestry Member Tree), and determine who the very first person on your list of E surnames is.  Or the first person on your list of I surnames.  Or Q surnames.  Or any other name you need to research.  Your choice!
3)  What do you know (or not know) about this person based on your research?  It's OK to do more research if you need to - in fact, it's encouraged!
4)  How are you related to this person, and why is s/he in your family tree?
5)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook Status post or Google+ Stream post.
Here is my random person:

2)  I chose to go to the first letter of the alphabet in my Legacy database.  The very first person listed is Lou Emma Abbott.  I didn’t even recognize her name, but see that she is married to a Lunsford, which is a name I recognize.

3)  What I know about Lou Emma Abbott.  She was born about 1868, possibly in Mississippi, she was married to William Lunsford.  I have 7 children in the database, born to this couple.  I have William’s estimated birth date and an exact date of death for him.  The only sources I have for this scant amount of information is a 1910 census and William’s Louisiana death index information.

Here is how they appear in my Legacy database:

Lunsford Wm & Lou

Pretty sparse information as you can see.
Here is the new information I was able to find in under an hour, for this couple.

I first checked my Ancestry tree to see if there were any usable hints. 
NOTE:  I look for the vital and census records first and rarely refer to the Ancestry Member Trees as they are generally unreliable and poorly or not sourced. 
Here’s what I found on Ancestry:
  • 1910 census – she and William with 7 children living in Louisiana
  • 1920 census – she and William with 2 children still at home, in Louisiana
  • 1930 census – she and William living in Louisiana
  • Texas Death Certificates (this is an especially good find)
Next I went to and here is what I located:
  • Death records for her husband, William and her children, Huntington, Milton, Paul & Florry (married name Chesnutt)
I looked for a marriage record for Lou Emma & William on both Ancestry & familysearch, but was not able to locate one.

Next, I checked FindAGrave.  Based on the death certificate I located for Lou Emma, she is buried at Forest Park-Lawndale Cemetery in Houston, Harris, Texas.  I did not find a memorial for her at the cemetery, but I did find one for her daughter, Florry May Lunsford Chesnutt, memorial #127921340, and for Florry’s husband, Bert Chesnutt.

Here is how the entry for Lou Emma Abbott Lunsford now looks in my Legacy database:

Lunsford Wm & Lou after info added

There is certainly more work for me to do.  BUT, look at how much information I was able to fill in for Lou Emma Abbott.  This truly was just a random pick from my database and I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I found more information.
4)  Lou Emma Abbott Lunsford is the wife of my 1st cousin 4 times removed.  That is probably why I never bothered to pursue more information about her.  I will work on the more distant collateral lines, only if I think that doing so will help me with something I’m looking for.
CONCLUSION:  This was a worthwhile expenditure of my time.  Why?  Because it reinforced how important it is to go back to people in our database and review what we have or don’t have.  In this case I was able to locate 3 census records, 6 death records and 1 burial location.  I’m sure I could locate other records, but I will stop here.

Thank you to Randy Seaver for suggesting this exercise.  If you decide to review someone in your tree, please share it with me in the comment section of this post.  I’d love to hear about it.


Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl
Copyright ©  2010-2015   Diane Gould Hall


  1. Well done! An A for effort and results. I love your comment " reinforced how important it is to go back to people in our database and review what we have or don’t have. "

    1. Thanks Randy. You post some excellent challenges on your blog.

  2. One more point to make - people like Emma Abbott in your database are the parents of children and grandchildren, etc. who are your relatives, and living descendants may show up on an autosomal DNA test result. They may have information on your common ancestors (like photos, or family bibles, or letters from your ancestors) that they might share with you.

    1. Good point Randy. With more and more people doing DNA testing those descendants become more important than ever.

  3. I really like that you limited this to an hour! That seems doable. :) I might have to do the SNGF tonight... or even in the morning! Great job!

    1. Dana - I agree. Very doable. It took me longer to write the post than to do the research. I also added the sources to my Legacy database while I was at it. I will definitely be doing this again. Thanks for leaving your comment.

    2. I ended up doing it & was very happy with the results! I found a LOT of new information in less than an hour & some new leads I need to follow!

    3. That's great Dana. We can thank Randy Seaver for his excellent suggestion. I'm so glad you found new information.
      Thanks for letting me know.

    4. I think it might have to do with WHERE our ancestors lived... I have had a LOT of success with about 600 clipped articles! But, I don't think I've ever found anything on GenealogyBank. Isn't that strange???

    5. I completely agree Dana. I have gotten a lot of hits on Genealogybank for San Diego (my husband's family) and parts of Michigan (not Detroit sadly) and New York. Love the newspaper articles, wedding announcements, who is visiting whom, who is committing crimes etc. 600 articles! Oh my! What part of the country?

  4. Several places, actually. One of them is Cowley County, Kansas, where I grew up. Also a place in Pennsylvania (Lycoming/Clinton County) and another in Illinois (De Witt County). The other finds are more random..

    Thanks for your comment on 'my' penitentiary record. That's neat that you & your husband were in law enforcement! I'm sure you have some incredible stories you could tell!

  5. Thanks for commenting on my blog Diane - I looked at Randy Seavers Saturday Night Fun Challenge and have 'put it away' in Evernote as a To-Do - BTW my sorting is almost complete in Evernote and I am feeling very pleased with myself

    1. Way to go Helen. I'm going to begin working on my Evernote organization today. I'll do just a little bit each week. Should be easy to do on my iPad while I'm watching some TV at night. I've added your blog to my reading list and look forward to your future posts.
      Thanks for stopping by.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.