These are my current brickwalls . . . What are yours?

+6 votes

Having recently broken down a couple of brick walls / dead ends / road blocks, I started really noticing how many of us have these.  So I thought, maybe compare notes a little.  :)

Current bug-a-boos: 

  1. Ole H Williamson: born in Liverpool, whose middle name may have been Halley, or Harry; who may not have been a Williamson at all (supposedly, the Swedish family name was Waldemarsson (NO idea on correct spelling), and who may not even have been born in Liverpool (I haven't been able to find any record of it).  According to his own statement, his father was Larsse and his mother was Anne Swanson.  He was supposedly aged 33 on his marriage certificate (20 March 1899) and aged 29 when his eldest child was born (25 October 1899).  His death certificate (1910) gives his birth year as 1866, father Larsee, mother Anne.
  2. James McCrea: supposedly Scottish, was a baker and then a publican in Sydney.  Married in Sydney in 1849, had 4 children by 1855, lost his wife and 2 of the children by 1855.  May have died in 1858, but nothing to confirm it.  His one son-in-law was a freemason.  It is possible he was the James McCrea who died in 1858, a freemason, but nothing to show it was he.
  3. Elizabeth Jennings Taylor (married James McCrea in 1849).  "Family story/records seem to show she was, in some way, related to some "rich" or "notable" Sydney family, as her one daughter told her own daughter about memories of a large mansion with lots of carriages and horse pulling up in the front.  Elizabeth died a few weeks after giving birth to her only son in 1855.  The son died a month later.
  4. Wallace Gordon.  I had a major breakthrough (YAY!!) on parts of this family over the mid-December to earlier than this January (as in about 2 days ago and yesterday), but have absolutely NOTHING on this guy.  He fathered 9 children, but wasn't an the census records with wife and kids (and she wasn't a widow until after 1849-ish (unless he was NOT the father of my 2Xgreat-grandfather, he had to have been around until at least when his wife fell pregnant).  The family resided in Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, Scotland from around 1829 (married there, eldest child born/baptised there) until sometime after the 1851 census, by which time Wallace was deceased. I have all the family except 3 of the children, moving to New South Wales.  (I have not yet looked for their marriages, but two of the girls were definitely married, as were at least three of the sons.  I know the wife's family name and parents (and even a brother), and her mother's father's family name, but nothing on Wallace.
  5. The name Tempest.  My 4th cousin and I are stumped on this one.  Our mutual 4Xgreat-grandmother had this as a forename (and I've lost count of how many descendants, but the cuz is one).  We're guessing/speculating that it was, at some point, a last (or family) name, but WHEN is our current dead-end.

SO, what are YOUR brickwalls?  Maybe we can all help each other .. or commiserate at how tough it is not having any notables to make it easier to track 'em down! cheeky

asked in The Tree House by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (103k points)
All the profiles at the top of a family tree are in principle brick walls. So genealogical research should be very depressing: as soon as you break a brick wall you get two new ones. I wonder why we like it so much.......

as soon as you break a brick wall you get two new ones. I wonder why we like it so much.......


Because we love mental anguish?  The sensation of (figuratively) beating our heads against those brick walls?  The (often very real) tearing out our hair by its roots?

Hmmm .. I also wonder why .. .. ..  smiley

Hi Melanie,

Do you actually have a death certificate for the James McCrea who died in 1858 as this is not clear?

Do you have a marriage certificate for James McCrea and Elizabeth Taylor? Is it from the State registry office or the church? I would recommend you get both as there can (apparently) sometimes be information in one registry not held in the other.

I too have brickwalls but my path is actually clear - I need to spend several hundred dollars on a certificate fishing expedition.

If Ole H Williamson had his children in Australia I would get every birth certificate for his children as they ought to have his place of birth, which may vary depending on who the informant was. Sometimes even the same informant can provide different information.

G'day, Mark .. I have a death registration number for two named James McCrea: 1858 and 1898.  The one in 1898 (2896/1898) seems less likely because it's Parramatta and nothing we have ever known says he was ever out of the Sydney area.  The one in 1858 (637/1858) seems more likely (but not guaranteed) simply because it's Sydney, the mother's name was Margaret (which would go with one of the daughter's being named Margaret) and because the (admittedly vague) stories in the family never mention either parent.  That smacks to me of orphans.  (But I could be running totally up the wrong tree there.) 

I can't access the original (or films of) records the way I did back in th 1990s when I could just trot along to my local library, my State library or the State Archives.  (That is one of my frustrations.)  I have a newspaper clipping (or a copy of it) in my family records as inherited from my mother, that shows a funeral notice from a Lodge (presumed masonic). 

There is no extra information on the marriage certificate.  Just who, when, where, date, by whom - and the witnesses.  (I have a paid for print from the microfilm of the original church register.)  We're talking 1849 here, before official state records began .. so the state registry only has the info from the church register.

Re Ole.  As I said - his information as per the marriage certificate (I have the official one from Qld Gov't) and the information on eldest son's (my grandfather) certificate (I have this, too) differ from each other.  Money (lack of) prevents me from buying any of the other children's certificates, as there are too many of them.  There was a family book, brought over to Queensland, prior to 1940(? Mother wasn't sure exactly when) by one of my mother's uncles.  he had gone to Sweden after some newspaper advertising was looking for the family.  The ads were placed by someone called Ake Wiberg (no guarantee that spelling is correct, but it's what my mother's notes record).  There were copies of this book for each of Ole's sons (not one for the daughter, possibly because she was a posthumous birth and he never had a chance to record her birth with the family back in Sweden).  Sadly the copy that should have gone to my grandfather was left in the care of his next brother down, because granddad was deceased by the time Uncle Henry went to Sweden.  Another reason given was .. granddad had two children and there was only one book.  So it got stored in the backyard shed, along with a large portrait of Ole's wife (my great-grandmother), and was destroyed beyond readability by weather.  If I were in Queensland, I'd take a trip north to Townsville and Ayr and look up the cousins I know are there (even if the ones I met back in the 1980s are now deceased).  At least ONE of them has to have the info I want .. or the family tree bug!  :) 


That fishing expedition is a different kind of brick wall.  One I understand (and from which I, too, suffer) only too well.  One day .. .. it is my dream to own ALL OF THEM!!!  cheeky

Sounds like you've been thorough. You didn't say if you've tried to chase the marriage witnesses to try and work out their relationship to James McCrea?

Not yet.  I got sidetracked on tracking down James McCrea's daughter's husband (my latest big breakthrough .. three generations of names, two generations of them sourced .. now all I need to do is add them in).  Just missing Wallace (as per my first post).

I figure the witnesses there AND the ones to Ole's marriage may lead somewhere.  It's really just a matter of slog it out.  smiley

I also have wondered about the two men willing to put up £50 EACH so he could get his publican's license in 1854.  (Don't know if they needed to repay that surety in 1855/1856.)  That was a LOT of moolah back in the day.  £150 all up, because James had to pay £50 as well.  (Well, I have also speculated that maybe James put up the entire £150 and just had friends/Lodge brothers (IF he was a freemason) sign the paperwork.)

I have a very busy brain some days!  cheeky

Further to James McCrea : apparently the Lodge as mentioned in the funeral notice for 1858 James McCrea is NOT a Masonic Lodge after all.  I had written to a Lodge in New South Wales, giving them all the information I had.  Today I heard back from them.  (The OTHER rellie was definitely a member of a Masonic Lodge, so that fixes that.) 

It appears that Perseverance Lodge, No. 1054 is an ODDFELLOWS Lodge.  surprise

Who'd-a thunk?!

Checking Wikipedia regards Oddfellows, I find that certain groups in northern England and Scotland were pro-House of Stuart (and anti-House of Hanover?), so my ever-busy brain has just gone into overdrive.  Could this be a reason JMcC left Scotland?!

Only time will tell (hopefully).

5 Answers

+6 votes

My brickwalls are:

  1. John Rollet  -born in England, possibly Yorkshire.  I have many records on him since he came to Canada with his wife Hannah Mary (Spencer) and son Frederick in 1851 but nothing on his birth, parents, etc. His death record shows his father as Thomas.
  2. Absalom Briggs  born in 1810 in Danby, New York to James Briggs and Betsey (possibly Wescott).  Married Eliza Abbott and moved to Wolfe Island, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada.  I also have information on him from after he moved to Canada, but  not anything confirming his parentage and early years.  For many years I had him with the incorrect James Wiswall and Betsey Shaw.

Any help would be appreciated.  Happy New Year to all my fellow Wikitreers!!!

answered by Karen Lorenz G2G6 Mach 3 (32.7k points)
edited by Karen Lorenz
I'm crossing my fingers someone reading this can jump in and help you break a brick or two!

I searched FreeReg for a John Rollet who was christened between 1814 and 1824 and found this:

  • John Rowlet was christened on the 5 December 1819 at St John the Baptist, Whaplode Drove, Lincolnshire. Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Rowlet. They lived in Moulton and Thomas was a Labourer
  • The only other ones were one christened in St Peter's, Laneham, Nottinghamshre on the 28 January 1821, and his parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Rollet who lived in Laneham and Thomas was a Labourer. The other in Blyth, Nottinghamshire on the 13 December 1822 as John Rollett to Thomas and Charlotte who lived in Blyth and father was a labourer.
Familysearch link for John in 1819 

Other children of Thomas and Elizabeth:

  • Mary Ann Rowlett christened 1 Sep 1822 in St John's in Whaplode Drove
  • Thomas Rowlet christened 8 February 1824 in same place.

Thomas was buried in St John's in Whaplode Drove on the 31 Dec 1823 as Thomas Rowlett, he was 28/29 (c.1794/5) and living in Queens Bank in Moulton - (three different records for his burial btw)

Elizabeth was buried in the same place on the 10th of January 1832 as Elizabeth Rowlet aged 37 (c.1795) she was living in Queens Bank - (again three records)

Early New York is tough. Try local histories for clues, as well as newspapers and the non indexed land and probate records on FamilySearch. Sometimes there are clues from siblings or aunts/uncles.

Record Transcription - Lincolnshire Marriages

First name(s): John

Last name: Rollett

Sex: Male

Age: Full Age

Birth year: -

Residence: East Ferry

Marriage year: 1845

Marriage date: 09 Oct 1845

Marriage place: Scotton

Spouse's first name(s): Hannah

Spouse's last name: Newham (prev married)

Spouse's age: Full Age

Spouse's residence: East Ferry

County: Lincolnshire

Country: England

Father's first name(s): Thomas

Father's last name: Rollett

Spouse's father's first name(s): William

Spouse's father's last name: Spencer

Page: 14

Archive: Lincolnshire Archives

Record set: Lincolnshire Marriages

Category: Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records

Subcategory: Parish Marriages

Collections from: England, Great Britain

... if you send me a private message ... I can e:ml you back a copy of the marriage cert. (... if you don't have a copy already?)

Just hoping to confirm that you’ve received my two e:ml’s with the two following attachments:

1845 Marriage Certificate for John Rollett to Hannah Newham (Spencer)

1815 Marriage Record for Thomas Rowlett to Elizabeth Swain

Just I’ve also found the following:

1828 Marriage Record for Thomas Newham to Hannah Spencer

1842 Burial Record for Thomas Newham

... who must have left a will as I also have:

1842 Index To Death Duty Registers for Thomas Newham

(unfortunately we only have access to wills after 1858)

... if you would like a copy of any of the above?

... if my e:mls/attachments are getting through???

Thanks ;-)

Also ... just found this ...

Could this be his baptism?:

Lincolnshire Baptisms

Record set: Lincolnshire Baptisms

First name(s): Thomas

Sex:  Male

Last name: Newham

Baptism year: 1803

Birth year: -

County: Lincolnshire

Country: England

Place: East Ferry, Scotton

Mother's first name(s): Charlotte

Father's first name(s): Thomas

Page: 15

Baptism date: 03 Apr 1803

Archive: Lincolnshire Archives

Category: Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records

Subcategory: Parish Baptisms

Collections from: England, Great Britain

... can forward a copy of this?

+6 votes

This is what I have on my profile page ion the bio:

A Few Brickwalls just in case someone else gets bored (Somebody, anybody, please get bored!!):

Gabriel Patterson
William Lawing
Robert Smith
George Shepherd, Sr.
Jacob Deck
Jesse Kerr, Sr.
Lucinda Davis
Elizabeth Devareau
Lucy Davenport
John Rodden
answered by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1m points)

(Somebody, anybody, please get bored!!)

answered ago by Pip Sheppard

Oh, how I have often longed for that same thing!  :) 

+2 votes
Fahey-621 who is simply listed as dead and from St John on his daughter's marriage document.  His wife, Ash-2094 has parents in my ancestry profile but i cannot verify them yet, including Unknown-444250.

Cunningham-9905, whi family info says came from north of Dublin.

Clark-45190, who I have linked speculatively to people but I am increasingly doubtful.  I have been hammering on this wall for several months with little real progress.  I have a list of likely relatives, but still cannot source them.  Clark Y-project might get me some benefit here.  

His wife, Lancaster-3107, is definitely documented, except her birth.  There is enough anecdotal evidence on Elihu and Mary Lancaster though that I am satisfied.  But, Bubier-57 cannot be the daughter of the parents listed because that Mary is well documented as otherwise married.  I have dna relationships through her. and have an excess of partial information, so just time i thing.
answered by Jeff Clark G2G6 (6k points)
I had a collateral who was listed as deceased by his daughter's wedding.  I discovered he had committed suicide (while, *I* believe, of unsound mind).

My other one 2Xgreat-grandmother's mother had disappeared from the face of the earth so far as my Mother ever knew.  In the last two weeks I discovered she had died after her last child was born; and that the child had been a son (Mum never knew that).  So, I broke down a brick wall that had bothered my mother for 30 years or more, but she's no longer with me to share the joy and sorrow of the discovery.

Don't give up.  When you least expect it you'll find a loose brick that will lead you where you need to go!  :)
+2 votes
I am lucky that on my paternal grandmother's side, I have a couple of notables that have already been well-researched. However, my paternal grandfather's side kinda ends with his parents - and I only just discovered them a month ago.

They are: [ John Roland Bonner] and [ Emma August Lee]  

I have other brick walls, but they go much farther back - and since I am adopted, this particular link is my real heartbreak. I know their son ended up growing up in Father Flannerty's home for boys (Current day Boys Town), but that's it. I found his parents names on his marriage certificate. That's all I know about his lineage.
answered by Alicia Taylor G2G6 Mach 1 (10.4k points)
Well, pshwah! at your notables!  I am sooooooooooo jealous!
+1 vote
My main brickwall has been Henry Hughey (1849-1894) who as his 1880 KY census records lists him as being born in Ohio and died in an industrial accident in Kentucky.  He was a brick maker.

For some time, I believed he was the son of Dr. Christopher Martin Hughey and his wife Martha Jane who were in Jackson County, Ohio, in 1849, but who were in Iowa for the 1850 Census.  So I don't know exactly where to look for Henry.  His first name might have been John as he had son named John born in 1869 before he married Rebecca Belle Alexander who was born in Scioto Township, Jackson County Ohio in 1855. Her family was back in Carter County, Kentucky in time for the census there.
answered by David Hughey G2G6 Pilot (301k points)
For the longest time my Mother believed her great-grandfather and his one brother had married sisters.  Over the last three weeks I broke that brick into shards and proved otherwise.  All from across the Pacific from the actual records!  (The brother married a name-alike, strangely.  The parents of the wife match with other family names, so I'm thinking she was related, but not a sister ('cause there were none left).)

I would love to help, but I don't have a CLUE about American records.  :(

Somebody around here might be able to, though.  There are so many who seem to just click their fingers and *poof*, there are the results!  :)

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