The Moment of Truth

Genealogy Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin

1923 Model-T

The moment of truth is when we realize that we have an answer and we know how to find it. Sometimes it comes after long, intensive research; other times it is but a flash, an idea. Finding answers, however, is not an easy chore. We must find clues which establish patterns which fit into the era during which we are searching. I was recently asked to locate a first wife who gave birth to one child then died a couple of years later. For this reason she did not show up on the 1850 census as the mother of this child, but the second-wife did. The marriage to the second wife was easily found, but not the first one, simply because the records began at a later date. situations like this occur throughout the research of just about everyone. Hard proof would be the husband receiving properties for his wife via the will of her father. To find such a detail, we need to examine the annual returns of the estate (every year until the estate was closed) and the receipts given by heirs or recipients. Here, your idea proof would be a receipt from the husband in behalf of his named wife. In addition, the sale of the estate listed every item and who purchased it. Then, of course, there is the possibility of an obituary somewhere, naming the heirs. This is not unusual. All local newspapers as well as the largest one in the State should be examined page-by-page because obituaries and death notices were scattered through the newspapers, even in the want-ad section! An obscure notice could be your moment of truth, or the actual cemetery where the first wife and her parents were buried. Sometimes we hit pay dirt, when all the children are listed on the tombstone, or obelisk in the cemetery. A number of old newspapers are published on Georgia Pioneers and available to members. In addition, lots of old Georgia newspapers have been published and are available in the Georgia Room of the Cobb County Library.