By Lorraine Indermill Quillon
Ever walk out of an eat-as-much-as-you-want buffet and then see a billboard advertisement for another restaurant? How enticing did you find that billboard? Did the sizzling steaks look as scrumptious as they did on your way to the restaurant you just left? Probably not.
This reminds me of a lesson I learned the past couple of weeks. For many years, I have been taunted by the shortest of the “blades” on my family tree fan—my second great-grandmother, Elizabeth GRAY. All I knew that could help me find her family was that she was born in 1812 in Ohio. Then she had the inconsideration to marry a man with another common surname, my second great-grandfather William SCOTT.
She kept sitting there on her fan blade, almost defying me to tackle her case. And I pusillanimously failed to rise to the bait.
That is, until a couple of weeks ago. While we were on a cross-country trip, I found myself lying in the dark in a motel room realizing that I was hungry—not for food, but for knowledge about Elizabeth GRAY’s past. I really wanted to find a family for her.
And happily for me, my brain sorted through my data files and pulled up the one clue I had. A Canby MOORE (who had bought a couple of acres of land from William SCOTT’s father) married a Jane GRAY in 1829 in Belmont County, Ohio. Seemed pretty convenient, but I had never pursued the case very far. Four decades of researching the SCOTT family can make you feel a little fatigued when you still don’t have an answer about the generation just earlier.
Fortunately, someone had posted a couple of additional details about Jane. So when we got home, I applied some of the skills I’ve learned from the Family History Expos courses. I started studying all of the GRAY families in Belmont County. I started analyzing what I already had. (Having published five books on Belmont County records certainly didn’t hurt!) I went to the records Holly taught me about that are available on FamilySearch. I used Google lavishly. I studied Find A Grave extensively.
A surprisingly few days later, I now have a pretty good estimate of what happened in the GRAY family of Colerain township, Belmont County, Ohio, in the first half of the 1800s. It wasn’t the excruciating experience I had expected it to be…not that it was particularly easy either! But it was kind of exciting to see the bits and pieces come together to make a fairly cohesive picture.
Reflecting on the experience, I realized that what made the difference was my being hungry. I wanted to know! I wanted to know so earnestly that I put into practice the skills I had been taught. The records were there all the time. I just wasn’t engaged enough to make the effort.
Now, when will you become ravenous enough to go look at one of your short blades?