Brick Wall 1 – David Evans, Sr.

Though I don’t intend this blog to be just about my relatives, a lot of it will be simply because that’s where my learning has come from.  So to give readers a bit of insight into the areas they are also likely to run into problems, I’m going to do a series about my Brick Walls.  [For beginners, “brick wall” is a term used in genealogy for a person you haven’t been able to go beyond in working back on a line.]   David Evans, Dr. is my fifth great grandfather (5ggrandfather for short).  He was born about 1734 and died in 1814 in Pickaway County, Ohio.  He’s mentioned in several history books having to do with Washington County, Pennsylvania.  In at least one he’s said to have been born in Wales, but other information indicates he was born in New Jersey or eastern Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, Evans is a very common surname and David an equally common given name, making it almost impossible to find out whose child he was by a process of elimination.   So far I’ve followed a couple of tacks  in minimizing the consequences of not knowing who his parents are.  First I’ve tried to post information about him wherever it would seem likely to attract the attention of Evans researchers who might be able to make a link between him and earlier Evanses.  Second, I decided to cut off the point where I look for descendents for my trees to my 5ggrandparents.  I still will look for earlier ancestors, but will only move forward in time on them for their children (the siblings of my ancestor), because they might provide hints on ways to work back.

Here’s a bit of what I know about David Evans, Sr.  His wife was Mary Vandevender and their children were Abraham, Bosmuth,  Joseph, Caleb, Rebecca, Nathan, John, Lidia, Mary, David, Sarah, George Washington.  In the 1790 census for Washington County, Pennsylvania, David’s given name appears to be Daniel, but in 1800 and all the histories, he’s David.  Also in the 1790 census he’s shown with two slaves.  In the registration of slaves in Pennsylvania of 1782 we have this entry:

David Evans of Amwell Township – F??n a female negroe Slave aged 11 ys. – Peter a male negroe Slave aged 8 ys.

David’s wife Mary is supposed to have died in a house fire in 1800 or 1802 and shortly after that David and his son David, Jr. moved to Pickaway County, Ohio where David Sr. died.  David’s sons mostly moved to Ohio except for Abraham, who presumably inherited the family farm and died there in 1815.

Needless to say, I’d appreciate any hints anyone might come up with as to who David’s parents were.

Family Tree Maker 2011

There are a number of computer programs which allow you to enter your family trees and produce reports and even books from the data you enter.  I started out with whichever version of Family Tree Maker (FTM)was available in 2002, and that rather marked my beginning as a serious genealogist.   I’ve stuck with the program over the years and while it has its drawbacks, it’s shown mostly steady improvement and I’m not unhappy with it.  I’d be happy to hear from anyone who uses another program as to what advantages it might have, but I probably won’t change at this point in time.

One nice thing Family Tree Maker has is that it will do automatic searching on, to which I have a complete subscription, which makes things like the census searches I refer to in the previous post as simple as a couple of mouse clicks.  For those who aren’t familiar with FTM, it does searching in the background and when it has hits on the people you’re working on, it will display a green leaf for that person which you can click on and what it’s found will appear.  It will include things like censuses, military records, public records, links to Obituaries, etc.  If you don’t see a census, for instance, that you feel should be there, you can also click for a new search, which will produce lots of possible hits which weren’t likely enough to show on the first page.  I think FTM is set up to show up to 8 record hits and 8 family tree hits when you click on a leaf.  But a new search can have hundreds or thousand’s of hits to search through.  I normally only go a few pages deep in new searches as there are easier ways of finding a missing record, which I’ll go into in future posts here.

When I first got FTM, it was linked to, which I subscribed to at the time.  The more recent versions link to as a default, though it also allows you to search on rootsweb, Google and other search engines.  Now does have a goodly number of free databases, but a lot of the best ones are only available for paying subscribers.  They do have free periods available now and again, particularly during holiday times, so if you don’t want to or can’t afford to subscribe, you might want to look for the freebies and plan to go searching.  Many people, myself included, are willing to help people by doing look-ups, but it’s often a slow process, which is one of the reasons I’d rather pay the money for a subscription.  In the long run, the time saved is worth more to me than the cost of the subscription.

Census Tip 2 – Wade Hampton Borin

I’ve tasked myself to be the go-to person for my surname,” Dardinger.”  I can do this because there have only been a couple of hundred persons born with the surname Dardinger, plus a somewhat smaller number of women who took the surname when they married a Dardinger man.  Most of the known Dardingers are descended from a Stephen Dardinger who came to America from Switzerland about April 1, 1858 along with his wife and three children.  Later 6 or 7 more children were born here [his obit states he had 10 children, but I only have information about 9 offspring and I don’t know if the 10th, a female who presumably died young, was born in Switzerland or America.]

Among the other people who have been born with the surname Dardinger, the largest contingent were the descendents of another Stephen Dardinger who moved to America somewhat earlier than my Stephen and settled in Marshall County, VA/WV.  Since both of the Stephen Dardingers had children named Mary Ann and John, it’s easy to get the two families confused, and I did so early on.  I’ll detail the confusion which ensued from this in another blogpost when I have a chance.

This post concerns the husband of the Mary Anne Dardinger of the West Virginia Dardingers (as I call them.)  Wade Hampton Borin is an interesting character on a number of counts and I’ll probably be posting several times on him.  This post will, however, be limited to discussing how to use search functions to find individuals in censuses when their surnames in a census aren’t what they should be.  I’ve had several correspondents for the Borin line over the years and one of them was interested in finding Wade’s parents, but wasn’t having much success.  She had information indicating that he’d lived in South Carolina, in particular in Pickens, SC.  So I decided to help her out.  A standard search on the surname came up with nothing so first tried several possible variants of the Borin surname, including putting in Wild cards.  Again no success.  So I finally decided that Wade wasn’t a particularly common given name and I did a search of the 1850 census in Pickens Count, SC for the first name Wade.  I skipped down the the B’s and sure enough there was a Wade H Burden aged seven living in a somewhat confusing family.  I reported this back to my correspondent, and using this family she was able to find them in Marshall County, WV in the 1860, 1870 & 1880 censuses under the Burden name.   The reason it hadn’t been possible to find the family in WV earlier is that Wade was out on his own in 1860  and after the civil war, in which he served on the Union side he had changed his surname to Borin by 1870.  I have a speculation as to why he changed his name, but I’ll leave that for my next post on Wade.

Census Tips – 1

One thing which needs to be looked out for is the date a given US census is linked to.  The earlier censuses which have each individual’s age included, i.e. 1850-1900 are each based on the age of the person on the first of June.  1910 is based on April 15; 1920 is based on January 1, and 1930 is based on April 1.  This means that when an age is expressed in months, you have to work backward or forward to get the correct month of birth.  Even then they can often be off a month either because census taker calculated wrong, or because the exact day of birth isn’t known (this would mostly be the case for the 1910 census.

Why another genealogy blog?

I’ve been searching for my ancestors and relatives for about 10 years now and have had a lot of success as well as running into a number of brick walls.  I’ve found that one thing which is often missed is the importance of having people to bounce your ideas and frustrations off of.  So I thought I’d start a blog where interested people can come to look for suggestions about what to do next.  I’ll try posting a number of things I’ve found that work as well as asking readers of this blog to see if they can help me find ways over under or around my brick walls.  Feel free to post your comments to any post I make.

I’ll try to be fairly lenient with monitoring threads, but that will depend on how my readers respond to gentle suggestions as to civility, language and off-topic-ness.

Welcome one and all!