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Let’s Get Together and Cluster!

Let’s Get Together and Cluster!

May 11, 2021

When researching genealogy, it seems like we all sometimes run into a “little” issue—a brick wall. No matter where we look, records for a particular ancestor at a certain point in time become invisible. Now what? One method to try is called “cluster genealogy.” 

Cluster genealogy involves examining records left by extended family, friends, neighbors, and other associates to learn more about one’s ancestor. Examine records of those around the ancestor to fill in the blanks. Can’t find your ancestor in a particular census? Track his siblings. Did your ancestor immigrate with friends or neighbors? Track those friends and neighbors to see if they are living close by.

Not only can you use cluster genealogy to help locate information on an ancestor, but you may inadvertently locate other information about other family members as well. For example, while using this method to track my ancestor William Bailey, Sr., I discovered information about William Bailey, Jr. I located his Civil War records and learned he was in a Confederate prison, and once released, he was on the ship Sultana when it sank. He survived. I have since learned by using this method that William Bailey, Sr., died around the time of the Civil War.

So, when your ancestor does a vanishing act, use cluster genealogy to pull a rabbit (or clue) out of your genealogy hat! Share your cluster genealogy stories with us in the comments section below.

Sheri V.
Midwest Genealogy Center


I’m Looking Exactly When & Where My Great Great Grandfather, Gotlieb Ferdinand Swartz(Schwartz) About 1820-1878?? A Will Was Filed In 1878 In South Bend & Stated He Died In St. Joseph County But It Doesn’t Say What City Or Exact Date He Died. He was Married To Anna Rosanna Swartz & Had Charles, Emma, Mary & Enoch Swartz.In North Liberty Indiana I Have Been Stuck Here For Years! In Fact I Know My Great-Great Grandma Anna Rosanna Died On April 18 1901 In North Liberty, Said She Was Buried In Notth Liberty But I Can’t Find That Either. Thank You For Any Help❤️.

From Joni Buwa (not verified)
Tue, 05/18/2021 - 05:36am

Ancestry Library Edition has a landownership map for G. E. Swartz for 1875 showing the town of Lincoln. You might want to check it out to narrow your search. We can guess from the landowner map that he was still alive at this time further narrowing your timeline. The will available in Ancestry also indicates guardianship for the minor children. Proceedings started in July of 1878. We have a window here to pursue. If you haven't already done so, check census records for the children to see where they were which may help narrow search. Hope this helps.

From Sheri V. (not verified)
Wed, 05/19/2021 - 11:58am

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