I keep my public tree on Ancestry.com. I know there are other options, but Dad kept his tree there; and, when I took it over, it seemed easiest to leave it there. I have learned a lot about “proper” genealogical research since I began in earnest two years ago, though I still have a lot to learn.
I want to write a book for my father this year about our Scottish Muir ancestors since he didn’t have access to the information I do today and doesn’t know much about them. His great great grandparents had 78 grand children so I have a LOT of records. As I started writing I quickly grew frustrated because I was always opening the same record over and over to glean information. Each time I did, it seemed I learned something new from a record I’d looked at several times before.
I finally stopped researching and writing and started transcribing all the records as well as creating source citations for the non-Ancestory.com information I had, which was most of it about the Muir family.
|My transcription of Robert Muir's birth registration|
|Original remains of Robert Muir's birth registration|
As I was working on Dad’s grandfather’s second family – his mother’s half siblings – I realized I didn’t know much about them at all beyond their names – Robert, Jr.; Verna; Henrietta; and Margaret Muir. I noticed one other person had Robert Muir, Jr. in their tree of 3 people! But she was the home person so I contacted her. She had last logged on to Ancestry 4 months ago; I didn’t know if I would ever hear back. But she had called me during the day!
We had a lovely conversation that evening and we were both able to help each other. The only record she had found for her and my father’s grandfather, Robert Muir (1875-1956), was a marriage record for his second marriage to Elizabeth Fausz. On that record, Robert claimed to be 18 years old. But it was definitely the right Robert Muir.
|Missouri marriage license for Robert Muir|
and Elizabeth Fausz found on Ancestry.com
Because of that record, my newly discovered first cousin once removed didn’t think he could have been married before and that Alice, my grandmother, must have been his sister. She stopped researching in total frustration because she couldn’t find any other records that supported those facts.
|Robert Muir and Elizabeth Fausz on their wedding day on 26 Sep 1911|
in St Louis, Missouri
She had no idea her grandfather was born in Scotland, who his parents were, and so on. My tree helped her make a breakthrough, especially when she discovered we each had the same photo of Robert Muir and two unknown people; and I was glad for that. What did I get? Photos! Lot’s of old photos of Robert Muir and his second family…and one photo of my Dad at age 10 or 11 with his maternal grandfather that was unknown to our family. What a find!
|Robert Muir and my father taken in|
1941 in Arlington, Virginia
My small success was a result of always looking at tree hints from other people. We hear so many horror stories about bad trees and sloppy research and many are true. But I look anyway for clues to other possible sources. And this time I got very lucky indeed!