This site is dedicated to the memory of my parents and to our ancestors. If you are related to those listed, I hope this gives you a better understanding of their lives. Feel free to comment on anything posted, especially if you have additional or different information. The posts on this page chronicle my
research journey and provide resources and links. Genealogy is divided by parental lineage into Lowe and Bader. You can access these by
category from the menu and side links. Please be aware that this is an on-going project. Information will be updated as it becomes available.

Journey # 28: Mind the Gap

Filling out families is something I do when I am stumped on direct ancestor research, but it is also an important part of genealogy. Discovering all the members of a family group can help determine locations and occupations that can identify ancestors in other records or lead to specific lines of inquiry. 

Sometimes it is easy to find family members in records. Census records show all the members of household with their names, ages, occupations and places of birth. By compiling the information from census records, a family framework is built. 

But censuses were typically taken every 10 years, and a lot can happen in 10 years. The family might have moved several times in those years and you’d never know it from the census. A man could have several different jobs or occupations. It is also possible that children were born and died during that decade and you’d never know they existed because they never appear in a census. 

So how do you know if you have missing children from your family group? The easiest way is to look at the gaps. Before birth control, births occurred on a fairly regular basis, typically every couple of years. So if you see a long gap between births, then a red flag should be raised. 

There are really only two reasons for these gaps. One is that the husband was away, possibly working or in the military. The other, and more likely, reason is that at least one child was born and died that you are unaware of. 

I had one or more gaps for each of my family groups. For two of them, the reason was, indeed, that the husband was away. The Boer War and World War I were the culprits. But for the others, lost children was almost always the guilty party. 

Searching genealogy databases was, for me, however, not the solution to filling out these gaps. The names, as I've mentioned numerous times, were just too common, and the records incomplete. Without at least one parent name and/or an address there was simply no way to determine if any of the children were related to me. 

Enter burial records. 

I was fortunate to find an online group called the Yorkshire Indexers, which has compiled information from all the cemeteries in the Leeds area and created subscription-based databases. For a small fee, a membership in this group provided me with access to a searchable index of cemetery records, both civil and parish, and data from the actual burial registers. 

I had two particularly perplexing gaps in my Patrick Connell family group from 1872 to 1877 and from 1878 to 1885. A search by Connell turned up hundreds of burials in Leeds cemeteries for people with that surname. But by browsing the list by the family gap periods and then for those who died as children (the age at death was shown in the search results), I narrowed that down to a reasonable number. Looking at the record for each of the likely children helped me identify three previously unknown offspring who had died between the censuses: Catherine (1872-1878), Michael (1878-1878) and Elizabeth (1881-1881). 

While Family Search, Ancestry and Find My Past did not have the parent’s name or residential address in the death records, the Yorkshire Indexers did, taken from the cemetery register files. With that information, it was easy to discover which children fit into my family group. I also accidentally ran across a child born out of wedlock to one the girls in my family group, an unexpected bonus (for me and probably for her too). 

Small databases, such as the Yorkshire Indexers, are proving themselves just as valuable as the big ones in my research.


Post a Comment

To prevent spam, your comment must be approved before it appears. Thank-you for your patience.