Tuesday’s Tip: Casting a Larger Net

fishing netFor the past few months I have been researching my German line, the Jonas Family from Morton Grove, IL. In 1999 when I started researching my family, the information I had on this family was basic. What I knew, came off of birth or death certificates that I found among the papers that my maternal Grandmother had left behind, which now are housed with my father. When I started researching the family, the only thing I was able to do was find census records and add siblings to what I already knew. That was it. Whoever I asked in the family had no further information, maybe a few family stories, but nothing that gave me clues to where the family was buried or anything else.

This past year, the records from Family Search has opened up so much information on this family for me. I found many birth, marriage and death records adding information to the families and watching them continue to grow and add new branches to their families.

But, here is what I want to share. As I was researching this family, I found the death record for Marie Jonas. Her place of burial was not so far from my house and it was a beautiful day, so I went straight to the cemetery to find her last resting place. Once I found hers, I found many other Jonas graves, none that matched my family. Since then, I have been trying to prove/disprove a family relation. To do this, I have been researching a second Jonas family from the Morton Grove area, that came here from the same part of Germany as my family.

Knowing that I still have not found one of the children of my Jonas family, I was really hoping that one of the extra Jonas’s that I found at the cemetery would turn out to be said child. Once I went back and analyzed all the data that I had collected on the second Jonas family, I was able to determine 100% that John Jonas (whom I thought would end up being the ‘missing’ child) belonged to the second Jonas family. I was happy to be able to place John with his family.

Though I have figured out where he belongs, that does not mean this family will not end up being related. I am still researching this. It pays to cast a larger net, research the families in the area with the same name. There is no guarantee that they will be related, but you may be able to learn something new about your family.



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  1. Good work, Terri. I’ve had to do this too in order to prove or disprove a connection. Even if it didn’t turn out the way you hoped, you still got them sorted out, and that’s progress!

    1. Thanks Shelley, sometimes it just takes another step to really look at everything you have and what it really means.

  2. Good post, Teri. I try to always capture information for everyone with a surname of interest, whether I’m at a cemetery, looking at microfilm, or whatever. You never know if they will turn out to be related.

    1. Thanks Tonia, it is definitely worth the while to pay attention to the surrounding family people, whether graves or census records. You never know what you will find.

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