I have a few thoughts on brick walls, that I'd like to share. Granted, a lot of this will be pretty basic, but it may help someone. So, here we go.
1) Brick walls are said to be the bane of any genealogist. However in some cases, it that old family rumor or story. I had one in my family, a Polk family, Every obit for every family member said that X person was related to President Polk. And I spent a lot of time trying to prove that to no avail. I eventually came to the conclusion that the story was just that, a story.
Sometimes old stories and rumors can be quite helpful. But in other cases, can be traps that will waste tons of your time and lead you nowhere. Just be careful and be willing to explore other possibilities.
2) Just because it's a source and printed in a book, doesn't mean it's correct. I have an ancestor, Nancy Humphreys. There are tons of genealogies on ancestry that have her parents as William Humphreys and Mary Summers or Melb. That is based on an old Daughters of the Revolution application that pops up as a source.. Recent DNA evidence and other factors which are too numerous to go into here, have proven this lineage false. Her father is named William, but that' is the only part of the lineage that is right. Everything else about it is completely wrong.
But too many people are taking it as gospel and trying to go back further and they will get nothing for their efforts.
2nd example, there is a book, called, The basye Book, By Otto Basye. it is a well researched, but not perfect history of the Basye family in America. It has the parents of one of my ancestors as Randolph and Sarah Sandlin.
A signed affadfavit in Randolph Sandlins war of 1812 pension, directly contradicts that and names him as the stepfather. It also give a totally different name for the mother.
Sources are the bedrock of genealogy but, in some cases they are flawed. Much like Family Stories.
3) Start Over - With all those bad family trees and sources floating about, sometimes, its just best to simply START OVER. Take the family you are researching and having problems with and if you can, completely start from scratch. Disregard everything else, that's been said or written about the family
Then you say, Ok, I don't know anything about this family, what can I find out by using sources. In some cases, it may be quite helpful as may cause you to challenge conclusions that have been made previously that might be incorrect.
4) What's in front of the wall. Simply put, if you can't find out what's behind the brick, wall, learn all you can about what's in front of it. Not just your direct lineage, but all the brothers, sisters cousins and everyone else descended from the person you are stuck on. Information gleaned from this can be very useful, especially when doing DNA research. Sometimes naming patterns show up, certain names pop up more than others. They might be significant.
5) DNA - In the last several months, using dna connections on ancestry have given me a number of valuable clues to several brick wall. In one case, the DNA proved that the family everyone thought was right, was in fact wrong. It takes patience and time to sort though all the people in your matches and their associated trees, but it can pay off big time.
Related to one of my points above when researching DNA, keep your mind open. Forget what you know, and concentrate on what you can prove or where the evidence takes you.
6) To quote George of the jungle, "Watch out for that tree"
As I touched above, there are loads of bad and incorrect trees floating around. I found one of a GGG grandfather just last night that had another wife and 5 or 6 extra kids that I had never once heard of or found in any single bit of research I've ever done. If you find a lineage online, don't just copy it, Verify it or at least try to. Too many people have blindly copied trees and found themselves facing brick walls, they will never be able to solve.
1) Be careful of family stories, online trees and sometimes sources. They can lead you to a brick wall, that actually has nothing behind it. Always verify and try to find collaborating information.
2) don't be afraid to start over or challenge previous conclusions, made by you or others. Especially when facing a brick wall. Be critical.
That's all for today. Hopefully this will help someone.