It is time to start filling in some blanks.
Starting with his wife and children, I use a combination of the website Intelius.com and the Public Record Indexes at Ancestry.com to determine birth dates for them.
Intelius is one of many public databases that can be used to search for basic information about people.
Although no residence was given in the obit for Roy's wife Sheila, most of the family seems to be in or around Murphysboro, IL. So I plug in her married name, Sheila Bennett, and that town and state, and hit "Search". Bingo!
I get a hit on her name in that town. It gives her age as of the date of the search, and also lists several people that are related to her. Since most of those names correspond to other people named in the obit, I am confident that I have the correct person. If I wanted to, I could have then paid a small fee to get an in-depth report, with an actual date of birth, and more information. But, this is sufficient for my needs. I highlight, copy and paste the info to a text file, which I name "31133-info.txt" (31133 is her RIN in my database) and file it in the (computer) folder for their MRIN. I will continue adding to this text file as I come across other records for her. Once I have pretty well exhausted the possibilities, I will print it out and put it in the paper folder. That way the information is safe in the event of a computer crash.
My next stop is Ancestry.com's Public Records Index, which is included with their paid subscription package. I imput her married name, approximate year of birth, derived from her current age, and the county and state of residence.
And, once again, Bingo!I am given two results. Same name, date of birth, and town, but with two different street addresses. I choose the second one and open it.
I highlight, copy, and past the text into the text document.
I then click the "Save record to someone in my tree" link, and add it to her information in the Ancestry tree. I also add the information to my genealogy software.
I repeat this process with their four children and their spouses. And, I run into my first anomaly. One of the children seems to have a date of birth about 3 years prior to their marriage date, and also the same date of birth as her husband. Hmmm. There are a few possibilities:
- The date of marriage as given in the obituary is incorrect.
- Both dates are correct; this is far from being an uncommon situation, especially the last 50 years or so.
- The date of birth is incorrect in the index, possibly due to a corrupted record.
As things stand at the moment, I have no way to verify for sure which is correct. Further research would be required. But, my guess is the third option. What has probably happened is that the child's date of birth has been mixed up with that of her husband's, who is probably older than she by a couple of years or more. But, pending further research, there is no way to know for sure. So, to be on the safe side, I simply record her date of birth as a possible range of years, and leave it go at that for now.
Another minor problem is that the two younger children, and their spouses, are found on Intelius, but not in Ancestry's PR Index. So, I leave each of them with an approximate year of birth. I could pay the fees and get the exact information, but I am not going to worry about it. Genealogy is, after all, more about searching ancestors than living progeny. If it ever becomes an issue, I can always go back and get it. Most public genealogy trees, such as the one on ancestry and the one on rootsweb, to which I also contribute, redact all information on living individuals anyway.
I don't even bother searching for birth dates for the grandchildren; they are probably too young to appear in either of these databases.
Before moving on to Roy's parents and siblings, I do a "Search Records" on ancestry for Roy, just to see what comes up. Another anomaly! It turns out that "Roy" isn't his true name. His full name is "Herbert Roy Bennett". He is listed in several records as H.R. Bennett, Herbert R Bennett, and Herbert Roy Bennett. OK, not that uncommon for a man to go by his middle name, especially if his true first name is a bit unusual or "old-fashioned". So, I copy all the appropriate data to a text file, and update my trees with the corrected information and the source citations.
Now we will move on to Roy's parents and siblings. Things get interesting and confusing real quick! So, I'm going to leave that for the next installment in this series.