Reviewing Old Records Pays Off

It’s a good idea to go back and review documents that you found years ago, because you may see things today that you didn’t notice at the time you found the record or make new connections based on what you’ve learned since then.

The Backstory

Barbara Baxter and her parents are one of my brick walls.  I know who her parents are, but I’ve never been able to find them together as a family, or in fact, to find any of them on any record prior to Barbara’s marriage in 1871.


I’ve been doing a little cleanup work in my database, making sure that all the records saved in Ancestry have been added to RootsMagic and that the citations are up to scratch.  I was working on Francis Marion Kendrick, Barbara’s husband.  I needed to update his 1860 census citation, so I pulled up the census record.  After correcting Francis’ record, I looked to see who else was in the household, so that I could correct their records as well.  Francis was still living at home, so I scrolled up to his father, Thomas Kendrick.  That’s when I noticed that the household right above them contained Baxters.

Now, I had originally looked at this record in 2008, so it has been four years, and at that time I didn’t know anything about Barbara’s family other than her surname.  I’m sure that I would have noticed these Baxters living next door to the Kendricks and would have assumed that they were related to Barbara in some way, but I didn’t know enough to do anything with the information or to go any further.

Since that time, I’ve learned that Barbara’s parents were Dave Baxter and Polly Lowery and that Dave had a brother named James who married Polly’s sister Elizabeth.

The Record

James Baxter household in 1860

The Connection

This is James and Elizabeth Baxter, Barbara’s aunt and uncle, living right next door to her future husband and his parents.  And look at the last person in the household.  Sarah, age 57.  I’m willing to bet money that she is James’ mother, which makes her Barbara’s grandmother.  I still need to find more evidence to prove her identity, of course, but this is a very good step.

And look at all the clues.  James was born in North Carolina.  The information I have says that James and Dave were born in South Carolina, but the Carolinas often get mixed up in records.  Elizabeth was born in Tennessee.  That may help me find Barbara’s mother Polly.  Sarah was born in Virginia; if she does prove to be James and Dave’s mother, then I know where to look next for her family.

So go back from time to time and review those documents that you haven’t looked at in a while.  You never know what new information may jump out at you today.  You might even knock a chip out of a brick wall.

Source: 1860 U. S. Census, Murray County, Georgia, population schedule, Militia District 1011, p. 113 (penned), dwelling 805, family 762, James Baxter household; digital images, ( : accessed 10 March 2012); citing FHL microfilm publication 803,132.

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