I was tracing a Scots-Irish man in Central Pennsylvania. He married at a particular Presbyterian Church in 1808. He never owned land and moved in 1814 without much of a paper trail. Now What?
Creating a Research Strategy
I began studying the records of that particular Presbyterian congregation concentrating on the period 1800-1814. I figured he had to be associated with someone in that congregation for some reason. On the frontier, people just did not travel alone. My logic was to identify a group of people whom he may have known and immigrated with from Ulster. This period put me in touch with the 1800 and 1810 censuses. Fortunately, the admissions to communion (1807-1842), dismissals (1807-1840), marriages (1807-1841), baptisms (1807-1839) and deaths (1808-1839) had all been extracted and published in 1895 in the periodical Notes and Queries: Historical and Genealogical Chiefly Relating to Interior Pennsylvania.
Developing the Research Strategy
While most of the records began in 1807, I learned it was an older congregation from an 1884 church history also published in this periodical. I learned it shared a minister with a nearby congregation for many years. That other congregation had records back to 1741.
The key here was my subject was not among the older established families, but a latecomer after 1800. Also published for the congregation was a Subscription List (1771). This helped me identify older established family from the latecomers. The associates of my targeted frontiersman would have been among the latecomers.
I now have a method of separating out the old families from those who arrived after 1800. I can begin studying who was associated with the person I was researching. This would further open up tax lists, wills and land records. Remember, the idea here is that to identify where one of the potential associates came from in Ulster is to potentially identify where my subject also originated.
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