One of the most important things I learned last year in my Genealogy Research is how much I can learn by reaching out to other Genealogists or History buffs. Sometimes it feels like genealogy research can be an independent, isolated endeavor – for me anyway. But last summer when I took a research trip I discovered that other researchers are much like me in that they love to share and help others with the expertise they have. Many times it was just little tidbits they said but it opened up whole new avenues for my research.
In particular, is the case of my great great grandfather, Daniel Gotcher. I had requested an obituary for him from the Omaha library but they hadn’t found one. His death certificate says he died in Omaha of a fractured skull from a st.ry. accident. So while driving from York County, Nebraska to Anamosa, Iowa I stopped off at the city library in Omaha hoping that I could find the obituary or news story myself. I ran up to the microfilm room to see what I could find in the short amount of time I had. After searching through all the local newspapers all around his injury and death date I was about to give up. I had been overhearing the two other researchers in the room and realizing they were genealogists I put it to them what I was looking for to see if they had any other ideas. First, I was surprised to learn that they knew about my earlier inquiry and had actually helped the librarian look for an obituary. Then, since we assumed Dan lived in Omaha, they took me over to the city directories and helped me look for a residence. No luck there, so the gentleman asked to see the death certificate and when he saw the name of Dan’s last residence he lit up. It seems he also knew about the old buildings in Omaha and knew where that address was, that it could be seen from the library window, and that in 1918 when my gg grandfather died it was a hotel. Which opened up the possibility that Dan’s obituary was in a newspaper in the city where his last actual home was – which would be Troy, Kansas. I still don’t know if st.ry. is steel railway or street railway (like streetcar?) but I hope to find the story someday.
This type of help happened over and over in libraries or historical societies at many of my stops. Even people that aren’t genealogists may know something about the area or the past that can open up new research possibilities. With this in mind I have become more outgoing about asking questions of the people I meet along the way. So my tip to new genealogists is to not be afraid to ask questions of the people you meet in your research journey.