52 Ancestors Week 14: Brick Wall

+19 votes

imageReady for Week 14 of the 52 Ancestors challenge?

Please share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches the week's theme. This week's sharing prompt:

Brick Wall

From Amy Johnson Crow:

Brick wall is a phrase that strikes fear in the heart of many a genealogist. Who is a brick wall ancestor for you? Who is one that you broke through a brick wall to find? How did you do it? You could also interpret this more literally, like with a family photo of a brick house or an ancestor who was a bricklayer.


Share below!

Participants who share every week can earn badges. If this is your first time participating, or you don't have the participation badge, please post hereClick here for more about the challenge.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker


First, thank you! Our Lemuel died in 1819 and we have proof of this so this is the wrong Lemuel. Lots of people add this misinformation all over the place. I appreciate that you responded.
Have you tried profile woodworth-381 on here. It shows William as father and Sarah Blackmer as mother if they have their info correct
I know I commented before on this but I came to a realization the other day. My great-grandmother, Anna Matthis was born in 1888. She and her father would have been in the 1890 U.S. Census but the census burned up!! Argh!  

Terri Clawson -1056
Yes, that is what we suspect but we have no documented proof connecting our Lemuel with William and Sarah. The other possibility is that Lemuel, son of William and Sarah had a son named Lemuel who may have been the father of our Lemuel. When we look at dates Lemuel would have been 51 when our documented relative was born - time to have had children and then grandchildren.

Thank you for helping. Tamber

My brick wall is as follows: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Julie-37

My grandfather was the result of an affair and his real father's name was never mentioned. Is there any possible way or technique to try work around such a dilemma? All of this took place in Port-Louis, Mauritius and my family are of French, Creole and British decent.

His mother's name was "Louise Cécile Laure Geffroy" born 20 SEP 1920 • Grande Riviere, Mauritius (my great grandmother) and her first marriage was to "Joseph Louis Julie" born 10 AUG 1910 • Mauritius. She then married common law to a "Cassam Sulliman" and finally her last marriage was to a "Joseph Charles Philippe Ducasse."She passed away 18 MAY 2012 • Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.

She had an affair with an unknown man while married to "Joseph Louis Julie" around 1938 and as a result "Joseph Maurice Julie," my grandfather, was born. He was registered as "Julie" and "Joseph Louis Julie" was added as his father on his birth certificate but this is not true. How do I find out who this secret lover is, who my real great grandfather is?

We know that the man which "Louise Cécile Laure Geffroy" eloped with while married to "Joseph Louis Julie" might very well be of Creole decent but how on earth do we find out and where do we begin?

Maybe somebody here finds interest and will be willing to assist. Any advice is welcomed!

I think that your best bet might be dna. When I took my DNA test I found that I have many matches in both my mother and father's side. I have many cousins now!  You might find family from your biological side and be able to figure out who he was through them and their research.


Thanks very much for your reply! I have taken the advice and I will be ordering a DNA test. Could you maybe update me on what to buy? I have no clue how DNA works and which test to get? Are there different types or is it a standard test? Appreciate your assistance and advice!
I have to assume that you are make because of your first name, if you are nit, forgive me. I

Ancestry.com and 123and me (and others) offer inexpensive autosomal DNA tests and then show your DNA matches. I've found cousins on vanity my mother's and my Father's sides after I bought an ancestry.com autosomal kit.

Another kit that's available through the same companies is a Ydna kit. This would show relatives in your make line because you got your Y gene from your father. I think this would be a good way to go for you.

I am not a DNA expert so if anyone out there wants to correct me, I would appreciate the help.

Good luck with this!


Clawson -1056

Filling in some gaps in my 52 ancestor challenge

I have three brick walls on my watch list that I am researching. 

John Glenn

Ellen Langridge

Unknown Simmons

One of my brick walls is Gueatt_2 he just disappears. I do have a supposed father who I do share dna with but I don’t have any records on him. One day I hope to figure it out.


86 Answers

+6 votes

My Sullivans from North Kerry - always! As you can see by the family chart of my Grandmother, she had two grandmothers named Ellen Sullivan from North Kerry.



by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (821k points)
edited by Maggie N.
+6 votes

This is my 1st post in 52 Ancestors, but I've listed m= Brick Wall on my G2 Feed requesting info/help with Tracing my Paternal Grandmother Ida Alma Carter Hedgpeth - (Carter 27350). I just wanted m at a loss It's like she never lived! I've researched, found her in my Dads Obituary only!  Asked living family members, searched for a family Bible with no luck. I'm stuck behind a huge Brick Wall. HELP!!! 

by Rhonda Hedgpeth G2G1 (1.6k points)

Ida Alma Hedgpeth (Carter) was created in the FamilySearch tree in 2017 with her parents and siblings. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LTVK-6Q2

You could try contacting the user who created her to see what else they know about the family.

+7 votes
My brick-wall ancestor is my great grandfather, Theodore Ceruti, for whom we don't even have a WikiTree profile yet. Family legend says we are Italians but Y-DNA says otherwise. We have reason to believe that something was going on that required a cover up. Whereas there is evidence of a cover up, there is only speculation as to what was covered up. Maybe future DNA data analysis can pinpoint ways to tunnel under the brick walls we face.
by Marion Ceruti G2G6 Mach 8 (89.3k points)
+7 votes

My brick wall is actually two fold. For years and years, the farthest back we could get on our Bender line was William Bender. He is my 3rd great grandfather. Since I got heavily involved in our family ancestry, he had been a brick wall. Even before that, my second cousin, who has worked on our family history, had him as a brick wall. I had a gut feeling that my William was related to a Revolutionary War solider with the same last name from the same area... Sgt. Christian Bender. After exhausting everything I could find online, I reached out to a genealogist in New York and she was able to find a document in Christian's son's probate that was not online. This document listed his children and where they were living at the time. This showed that my William's father was William, son of Christian.

Now, my brick wall has extended two generations and we have been stuck on Christian Bender since! We know the general area of Germany he came from and that he arrived in America in 1746 with a half brother, John, who was two years younger than him, they were 14 and 12. No idea who else accompanied them. We don't know if Christian's mother passed away or if it was his father (since he had a step-brother and the time period, we're assuming a parent passed). We don't know the exact place of birth for Christian either or the exact date of birth. We have been unsuccessful finding any kind of passenger list with the boy's names on it either in America or Germany.

by Anonymous Tuma G2G6 Mach 1 (14.3k points)
+7 votes
My biggest brick wall is William Shelton who married Hannah Yates and died about 1794 in Pittsylvania County, VA. Can't find his parents and he keeps getting linked to Crispin and Letitia Shelton who hales from the Ralph and Mary Shelton lines of Middlesex County, VA. DNA proves they are not linked but nobody pays attention and continues to link them. My fault really. Crispin did have a son named William who is mentioned in the Christ Church Parish records with a baptism or birth date. I thought this was the right man so I listed them as his parents then I back-peddled when I found Crispin's will and the following lawsuit that named all living descendants who could inherit and there was no William nor his issue from him mentioned in either the will OR the lawsuit! Anyway....my thoughts lean towards Joseph and Mary Shelton who lived in Halifax County, VA but I can't find anything to support that supposition and they seem to just disappear.
by Tina Hall G2G6 Mach 1 (15.0k points)
+6 votes
My brick wall ancestor is my third great grandfather Charles Timmons (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Timmons-907).  When I first started my search for ancestors several years ago it only took me less than a week to run into this brick wall.    Years later he is still my biggest brick wall.  Over the past several years I have identified over 1,000 descendants of Charles.  I have also encountered quite a few living descendants who also consider him to be their brick wall ancestor.  I know who his wife was (although I suspect he may well have had a first wife before the well known Mary Magdalena Forney who is my 3rd great grandmother.  She can be traced back to the 1400s and is quite well documented throughout the genealogical community.  5 DNA tests have helped me find descendants of Charles but no luck on his parents.  I have found people who believe he was born in South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Scotland and Ireland.  At this point I am pretty convinced he has Irish and possibly Scottish roots but even where he was born is unclear.  Seeing a Brick Wall wikitree challenge pushed me once again to post on the G2G forum (which I don't do often even though I am very active on wikitree).  Although the search has been frustrating at times, it is well worth the effort and I have thoroughly enjoyed everyone I have met as a result.

by Jeff Timmons G2G5 (5.5k points)
+6 votes
I have two brick walls that have withstood all efforts so far at finding who these were. Both are in the same line of my family.

Brick Wall No. 1: [[Ames-1175 | Hannah Ames]] Smith, my great great grandmother. Based on the one census where she appears in her own name and on her age at death given on her tombstone she was born on 8 May 1797 in Vermont. She married my GG grandfather David Smith as either his second or third wife, and her eldest known child was Reason Smith (b 1821). I know my GG grandfather's eldest three children's mother, but there are two more born 1813 and 1814 who are probably not Hannah's, so whose are they? Was Hannah from Vermont and how did she get to Ohio?

Brick Wall No. 2: [[Tryon-363 | Mary Tryon]] Smith, Hannah's mother-in-law, in fact. Again, I can only guess her date of birth based on her age at death on 31 Mar 1833 in Canaan, Wayne, Ohio, which gives me a birth year of about 1761. She married my GGG grandfather (also David Smith) sometime around 1780 and they lived for a number of years in North East, Dutchess County, New York before moving on to Ohio in about 1809. It is there that the Moravians record Mary's maiden name when she stood as sponsor for the baptism of her granddaughter. I have checked literally hundred of Tryon families in Connecticut and early New York. Mary was NOT a common name amongst them, and I've been able to eliminate many Tryon families based on vital records, wills and such-like. But I don't even know whether she was born in either Connecticut or New York, or somewhere else altogether.

All help very gratefully received!
by Laurie Keller G2G6 (6.9k points)
+6 votes

My brick wall ancestors are my 3rd Great Grandfather and 3rd Great Grandmother. Their descendants are proven and confident, but where did they come from? Henry Clay TAYLOR  and Ruth Ella HODGE had ten children
There are two 1840 censuses which imply that Henry and Ruth may have been separated - 1 June 1840, Duchonquet, Allen, Ohio, USA shows oldest son William TAYLOR lives next door. with his family. In Henry's household are: Males: One under 5 (Samuel), one 6-9 (Thomas), one 10-14 (James) one 15-19 (John) one 40-50 (Henry); Females: one under 5 (Caroline), one 6-9 (Melissa), one 10-14 (Rebecca), one 15-19 (Jane), one 40-50 (Ruth). 


>In 1840, RUTH is listed as Ruth HODGE in Xenia, Green County, Ohio. There are three children listed with her in Xenia. It looks like it could be Thomas, born 1831 (one male ages 10-14), abt 10; Rebecca, born 1822 (one female ages 15-19), abt 17; Melissa, born 1829 (one female ages 10-14), abt 11. 
Henry died on September 21, 1845.
In 1850, Ruth TAYLOR, born in Pennsylvania, lives in Pusheta, Auglaize, Ohio, with her two youngest children, Samuel TAYLOR, 17, and Caroline Charlotte TAYLOR, 15. 
My 2nd great grandfather, Thomas Henry TAYLOR is 19, and listed as a laborer in Wapakoneta, Auglaize, Ohio. 
In 1860, Ruth TAYLOR, 58, lives with her daughter Melissa TAYLOR Ryan Williams - Melissa had been widowed, remarried, and had children by both husbands. Melissa died in 1863, so it appears that Ruth may have taken care of Melissa's children. 
Ruth died April 10, 1868 - but I have no idea where she is buried! 

by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)
+6 votes

I knocked down a brick wall (or maybe a wooden wall?) a few weeks ago. The info on my 4th great grandmother, Catherine Frache, just didn’t add up. For one thing, her birthdate made her too old to be the mother of her children. But on top of that, I discovered that her data had been merged with her paternal half aunt’s, making it so that her dad was also her half brother angry (BTW this was on FamilySearch, not wikitree. I haven’t even finished adding them all to wikitree yet.) So I took a trip to the nearest family history library and was able to find digital images of both women’s birth records in the original handwritten French! (Those records are only accessible at a family history library even though they’re on the internet.) It turned out that both women had the exact same name, Catherine Frache, but the kicker was that they had both also married the same man, Jean Isaac Durand. No wonder they had been confused with each other. They were his 1st and 3rd wives. (And it seems that he really must have loved the name Catherine, because his 2nd wife was also named Catherine.) So I’ve been basking in the satisfaction of knowing that Catherine’s identity has been restored. And now a whole new branch has opened up in the tree—that of her mother, Catherine Bastie (yes, another Catherine!)

by Jodi Dalton G2G3 (3.8k points)
+6 votes
My husband's 3G Grandparents are my most persistent brick wall. I know a lot about their son, Benjamin F. Dyer, but little about them.  His death certificate lists Mattie Stauffer as his mother and simply Dyer as his father. The 1860 U. S. Census shows Benjamin living with Martha Stauffer in a curious blended family that has been challenging to unsnarl.  I have travelled to Lancaster, PA to research in person on two occasions to no avail.  

by Judith Brandau G2G6 (9.6k points)
+6 votes
I have several.

First is my mother's paternal grandfather Joseph Morin (abt Oct 1876 - after 1938) , adopted at birth in Québec City. I can find no documents of his birth or baptism or death. I am trying to trace his origins with my mother's DNA matches but it is quite challenging.

My husband's 4th GGrandfather. Michael Aylward. Born in Ireland in about 1800. Emigrated to PEI, married Elizabeth Doucet and had a family there. Through my mother-in-law's DNA testing we (unsurprisingly) have traced his origin to County Kilkenny. I find no concrete trace of him in Ireland.

Indeed with all of my husband's Irish ancestors I hit a brick wall in Ireland.
by Mama Kiki Lajeunesse G2G6 (9.2k points)
edited by Mama Kiki Lajeunesse
+5 votes

My brick wall currently is my Great Great Grandfather Mahoney, father of 

Peter Mahoney.  I have some ambiguous information and haven't yet been successful in getting further back in that line.

by Sally Mahoney G2G6 Mach 2 (28.9k points)
+6 votes

I have had several over the years. My great-grandfather Herbert Patch was, according to family lore, an orphan and his lines terra incognita for me. After I found his father and mother's names, I happened on the 1865 Mass. state census which had both of their names, their parents names, and an aunt and uncle who were living next door or with them.  That blew apart his line and led me to hundreds of different individuals. 

My 3rd-great-grandmother Emily Simpson/Stimpson had been a brick wall for years.  In fact as that link shows, I still have yet to edit in profiles for my newly discovered ancestors.  About two weeks ago I tried some suggested parents and after comparing the results with other sources and Wikitree was satisfied that the connections weren't spurious.  Turns out they led to another Revolutionary War veteran and two more Salem victims - Abraham SomesRoger Toothaker and his sister-in-law Martha Carrier.

by Bret Cantwell G2G6 Mach 1 (10.4k points)
+4 votes
I have several Brick Wall Ancestors.   The one I'm currently working most on is John Wall (Wall-4040)   I'm first able to locate John on his marriage record  then a few years later in 1850 widowed and living with his in-laws.    There are a few Wall families in the general area but I haven't yet been able to link John to any of them.
by Brandi Morgan G2G6 Mach 1 (18.6k points)
+4 votes

Excuse me for stating the obvious- but my brickwalls are all members of my family who refuse to cough up enough evidence to extend the family upwards and onward! cheeky

by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+4 votes

If I had a brick for every brick wall I hit, I could build my own wall.  While there are some very obvious ones, such as my filipino line which seems to have nothing documented anywhere, with almost the same situation in my polish line, I'll just pinpoint one ancestor who has caused me countless hours of chasing my tail:  1) Susan Soule: my 3rd GGM, her father is Abner Soule, and I know from personal records of my great grandmother, her mother's name is Bridgett, but she neglected to provide a last name.  I found a single source indicating that it was Bridgett Sprague, and have spent a lot of time looking for backup sources, but a wall, large and stoney, did I hit.

by William Catambay G2G6 Mach 2 (22.0k points)
+4 votes

I doubt I could do 52 of these answers but I * DO* have a brick wall.

Minnie Morgan (Tait) McPherson (bef. 1873 - 1946)

She is the only great grandparent for whom I have no documented information about the parents.  She was raised by the widow Mary Tait in Cornwall, Ontario but there is a high probability that Mary was not her birth mother.  There is a 50/50 chance that her LNAB was "Morgan".  I have listed all my doubts and uncertainties in the research notes of the profile.  Interesting is that there are NO family legends about her being an adopted child.

by David Fentress G2G3 (3.5k points)
+4 votes
I have one brick wall

David McDaniel born 7/28/1819 died 1862 Somerville, Lincoln County, Maine

I have his wife, his marriage date, and his 10 kids

but I NEED HIS PARENTS help stuck big time
by Anonymous Gauvin G2G3 (3.9k points)
+4 votes
My toughest brick wall is the getting past my fifth great grandfather, Anders Nielson Wiborg (~1655 – 1718 in Norway).  A cousin was working at breaking this barrier when I first started puttering around at genealogy back in 1974, and I’m still trying. Recent efforts include 1) Y-DNA testing (R-L48), 2) starting a name space page for a Wiborg Name Study, and 3) adding every possible Wiborg I can track down to WikiTree.

All suggestions (and relatives) are welcome! Thanks!
by Jim Wiborg G2G6 Mach 3 (39.1k points)
+4 votes
One of my brick walls is Garret Brandt Clawson. (Clawson -318) He was born in Virginia in 1767 and died in Hector, N.Y. in 1841. I cannot find his father! (Neither can others in his line). He was a revolutionary war soldier but all I've ever found for him was role calls with his name on them. There was another Garret Clawson that was from Virginia and applied for a pension, but that's not my Garret.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I have to do deeper than the usual census and findagrave searches.


Clawson -1056
by Terri Swift G2G6 Mach 1 (14.3k points)

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