In the years that I’ve been researching the progenitor of the Lee family line, Jordan Lee, I have used various strategies in my research. I had to find new ways of researching this elusive ancestor because I didn’t have any information for him and there were very few records for the Lee family. Genealogists at some point in researching their ancestors come across one who is difficult to find records for or link to parents. It is difficult to know where to start looking for records when you have no information such as family stories, or conflicting information from online trees for the Lee family, and you have an ancestor who didn’t leave a paper trail. There are strategies that I have used when researching this elusive ancestor with few records.
Since I wasn’t fortunate to have family information passed down about Jordan Lee, I had to rely on online family trees to start my search for him. My oldest sister knew about our immediate Lee family. Being the oldest child, she was privy to the family information and she was an inquisitor so very little information got by her. She loved family history and got me started on the way as family historian. Lee cousins who are older than me who were also privy to family information and stories helped in verifying the information that I had about the immediate family. I knew my paternal grandmother Alice Lee and I knew that her father was William Alfred Lee. I also knew that William Alfred was born in Alabama and Alice was born there but William Alfred had migrated with his family and a group of families to Jackson Parish, Louisiana in the early 1900s. After I had gathered all the information for my immediate Lee family, I researched them until I was confident this was my Lee family. Along the journey I connected with long ago cousins and found new cousins and they have helped by providing tidbits of information in the research of this elusive Jordan Lee family.
Using online family trees and verifying information from them. Online family trees are a great source when there is very little information to go on. I took the information from online trees and looked for records to verify it. There were census records and a land record for Jordan Lee. He is mentioned in estate papers for Thomas Hodge, Lydia (Letty) his wife’s relative. He and his wife Letty is mentioned in the probate record for his father-in-law Benjamin Hodge. I am feeling confident now that I have the Jordan Lee who is the progenitor of the Lee family.
What do I know about my ancestor?
Writing down the information that I already knew about my ancestor helped me see where I needed to begin my research. I wrote down life events from birth to death and filling in the years in between as I found information to verify it. A timeline is a great tool to write down life events and will show gaps in your research. If you missed a census record you will see that you will need to go back and look for that census year. While looking at the census analyze it thoroughly looking for clues for relatives living nearby or any other family with a familiar surname. Those families may provide valuable clues for your research. Save any information that will be of value later on. Once you have written down the information that you already know about your ancestor you are ready to move on to what you want to know about this ancestor. What is it you are trying to find?
What do you want to know about your ancestor and what are you looking for?
What fact are you trying to verify? I want to know who the father of Jordan Lee is. I am looking for the father of Jordan Lee and verify Jordan Lee’s parentage. Your results will be more effective if you focus on one piece of information at a time or one question at a time to answer. By doing that you will be more focused in your research and won’t be chasing other interesting ancestors that get you off topic. Keep copies of information that may be helpful later on and if possible, keep a record of searches so that you won’t go back to the same records over and over. Do thorough searches until you feel confident that you have explored every record in that collection.
Research the whole family not just your direct line ancestor.
Your ancestor most likely had siblings so research them looking at name variations and initials in records. They may provide important information about your ancestor. You may find a parent living with one of your ancestor’s siblings or children. I found Letty Lee living with her daughter Naomi Hasten and her family. However, Naomi was listed as N. Hastin, because I had researched Lydia’s children, I knew Naomi had married Hugh Hastin. Naomi and her family along with Lydia Lee were living in Butler County, Alabama in 1860. I had searched for Lydia Letty for a while and couldn’t find her. Then researched the children of Jordan and Lydia and found her living in their household. The same thing happened with Druecila Lee widow of Benjamin Lee, son of Jordan and Lydia. Druecila was living with her daughter, Frances Drucilla Emmaliza Lee. However, on the 1880 Hackneyville, Tallapoosa County, Alabama census Frances was listed as Fannie E. Tompson. This was Druecila’s daughter who married Clem Thompson. Had I not researched the whole family I would have missed finding the daughter and Druecila.
Names are important make sure that you don’t get locked into one name. Look at all possibilities. There are numerous online trees that have my ancestor’s name as Thomas Jordan Lee. I haven’t found any record to verify that his name was Thomas Jordan. I am not saying it isn’t his name, but the proof isn’t there yet. Others have his name as Jourdan. Again, the proof isn’t there yet; however, there is a Jourdan on the North Carolina censuses, but the best that I can’t tell from my research that is another Lee line. Never just search what you believe is a known name, search to prove or disprove the name variations. There are numerous online family trees that have Jordan Lee’s parents as John Lee and Elizabeth. I have not found the records that link Jordan Lee to John and Elizabeth, and the records shown with the couple are not proof of anything. The link from parent to child isn't in those records. It is just folks copying trees and adding records that don’t prove anything.
Incorporate YDNA test for the male Lee surname and autosomal test results for all others and use the results with traditional genealogy to verify your genealogy research.
Genetic genealogy and traditional genealogy research are my passion. Even though I am not a professional or certified genealogist I do have a graduate degree from an accredited college, and I do my best to follow the Genealogical Proof Standards (GPS) or the best practices for genealogy. I work to come as close as possible to identifying my ancestors and making sure I have the correct line of ancestors in my family tree. Using DNA testing along with traditional genealogy gives me the feeling of confidence that I have fulfilled the reasonably exhaustive research for those elusive ancestors. I have autosomal (atDNA) tested family members and paternal first cousins, half first cousins, and second cousins. There have been several Lee cousins who have tested with Ancestry and 23andme Testing Companies making it helpful to identify the cousinship on the paternal Lee line. Those cousins are from second cousins to fourth cousins and beyond. Also, I have YDNA tested one of my Lee male cousins and autosomal tested him. The YDNA test results for our Lee line shows that our Lee line isn’t related to the Lees from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, or Robert E. Lee. Our Lee line is in a lone subgroup. Possibly from England. If folks took the time to look at the DNA and analyze the results, they would know which Lee line their Lees descend from. By doing that they could prove or disprove those stories that grandma told them.
Search for neighbors of your ancestor.
Your ancestor’s neighbors are probably related to the family or connected to the family in some way whether by the same religious beliefs, migrated together, or through intermarriage. Look at those neighbors thoroughly and look closely at names and places of birth. Families migrated in groups and they usually stayed together in community clusters. Look through the censuses not just the page where you find your ancestor. More than likely there are other family members living nearby. Marriage records have names of witnesses on them so take the time to research them and find how they are connected to the family. There are usually relatives or people named on wills or probate records who are connected to the family, so take the time to determine how they are connected to the family.
Everyone at some point in researching their ancestors will experience an elusive ancestor. There will be times that you can’t find a particular person or family in an online record collection. Keep looking and use strategies that you have not used before. If you keep using the same strategies over and over and they aren't producing results, then it is time for new strategies.
I have a relentless “track-em-down” attitude and I am persistent in finding the parents of Jordan Lee. So, the search continues using YDNA test results, autosomal DNA, and traditional genealogy to prove and disprove the parentage of Jordan Lee.
William Alfred Lee and Emer Meadows his wife. My great
grandparents the parents of Alice Lee my grandmother.