I have spent the past three months running headlong into brick walls. Figuratively speaking, of course. I’m taking about genealogical brick walls, the moments when you’ve reached the end of the paper trails your ancestors left.
The whole thing is so perplexing, but fascinating.
Take Narcis Pinkard Hamilton, for example. She is one of my great-great grandmothers. Born in Georgia in 1864, she was married at 15 and spent most of her life working as a domestic. She died in Columbus, Ga. in 1934, and her death certificate helped uncover some details about her immediate family. I know she had a younger brother named John, and her father’s name was Henry, but that’s all I know. I don’t know where in Georgia she lived before she married my great-great-grandfather Ike Pinkard, nor do I know her mother’s name.
One of my great-great-grandmothers, Annie Cotton Nance, is another woman whose life is largely mysterious. She doesn’t appear in any U.S. Census until 1900, when she was a 35-year-old married mother of 10 children. I can’t even find a Cotton family in the area that would correspond with the information that’s been passed down. I know that after my great-great-grandfather Henry Nance died, she lived with one of her sons, Oliver, and also with one of her daughters, Sallie Mary. She died sometime around 1938, though I haven’t been able to find a record.
I think this means I have to refocus my research. Instead of focusing on how far back I can go, I should start digging deeper into what I’ve already found.