Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What would $1000 get me?

I know that in five or ten years the answers may be a couple of clicks away. I am also aware of my impatience when I set my mind to something. I really want to know where John HEATON came from and who his parents were. I also badly want to know where the EBERT family came from.

The difference here being that I cannot just go research on-site for an extended period of time. It's not feasible and frankly I'm not even sure where to begin. I mean, the areas don't look that big on a globe, but...

Another issue at play is the age and health of certain other family members that I would really enjoy sharing this information with.

There is only so much that can be done online. The assistance and generosity of others can help, but there are only so many RAOGK-type people out there and most don't want a research project. Record retrieval and small scale lookups are their strengths, and that's really all I expect since that's where I often draw the line when I do the same.

So, what I've been thinking about is offering a cash bounty. With my readership, though, I may have to trick Chris into thinking this would be a great Challenge. Maybe a new category: "Sponsored Challenges with Cash Prizes."

This idea is fraught with problems, though. If one were to pay for results, what would be a reasonable list of expectations to have? How many layers of proof or conditions would have to be met before paying out? I'm an honest guy and I'd stand by my word, but I'm not going to hand over $500 or a $1000 to the first person to email me a few names and dates. I don't need possibilities, I need forward (well, reverse) movement on these families.

While I know hiring a pro is an option, I have some reservations about that. First, in both cases I cannot easily reproduce a list of everything I've researched. Fixing this is going to take a very long time. Secondly, and this may not be fair to others, but I did consult a research firm once and every idea they had I had already covered.

DNA may be the cheaper route, but I fear it would still take years to achieve minimal success in terms of the number of people being tested.


Lee said...

Hmm...I'd have to see an outline of your problem and know the areas that "don't look that big on a globe" before I could offer any constructive advice, but perhaps you could break the problem down into bite-size chunks and offer small cash rewards for each winner. Or, you could promote it like Megan did the Annie Moore case, and offer a large cash reward to the first person(s) to find *all* the answers.

And I know you said you've consulted with some pros, but have you talked to Arlene Eakle? She's d*mn good they say, and you could get her for that kind of money.

Apple said...

I have a couple of brick walls that I would love to have someone else tackle but for right now I have enough lines that that I'm making progress on to keep me happy. I also wish that I'd kept better records of where and how I've already searched.

Throw your problem out there. You never know what someone else will come up with. Steve helped with my Italian line and Craig has come up with something on the headstone that Tim mentioned in the Cabinet of Curiosities.

David said...

Lee and Apple, I'll touch on the high points of each case.

John HEATON first shows up in records in Madison County, Illinois, in Oct 1830 (a deed). Six weeks later he marries in the same county. John dies in Jan 1844; no will, but a probate file was found.

The problem with census records is that 1840 is all I can find him in (and that's assuming you accept the enumerator's presumed spelling error seen against nearby neighbors and in-laws). He does not seem to be in Madison County in 1830 (well, when the census was taken and as HOH), though it's possible he was living in the household of a brother, cousin or uncle, or even in another family's household.

A biographical sketch of his son mentions that John was from Pennsylvania, while wife Rocceanna was from Virginia (which I have verified). So it doesn't look like I can look at her origin for John. They apparently met in Illinois. Now, this part of Illinois was made home by a bunch of transplanted Pennsylvanians, some of whom came from counties where the HEATON name was pretty common. The problem here is that those families have been written about and my John is not mentioned.

There was no newspaper for this area (just across from St. Louis) and I have found no mention of John's death in surrounding papers. What I have found is that he would have had to have been famous or his death spectacular for one of those papers to have printed an obit or story in that era.

He is not mentioned in county histories (many descendants left the county before those books were written in the 1880s and 1890s). There is no known place of burial, so I don't even know when he was born (circa 1800-1810?).

I'm stuck where others are stuck. (It's funny that you mention Arlene Eakle, Lee. I have in fact considered her, but am afraid this would be a case that'd drive her nuts, haha.)

In my ancestry, this is probably the family that would benefit most from a DNA project.

This family claimed to be from Bavaria in records from about 1841 to 1880. After that, census records were generally not very specific, so you find a lot of "Germany." In some records, though, Prussia and Westphalia show up. Oral tradition is the family was from Alsace-Lorraine. One researcher of another family with an odd connection to my EBERTs apparently did or had extensive research done in an area he thought they were found. No luck. My comment about the globe was sarcasm. I haven't a clue where to look except that it's somewhere in Germany.

I have a lot of church records for this family, but Catholics in St. Louis during the 19th century weren't concerned with death and burial records very much. So, I don't have the kinds of details that I have from contemporary Lutheran records that helped me cross the Atlantic for a handful of other families.