When researching our female ancestors who have few records naming them, to make progress, we need to do cluster research. We determine the people in her FAN club (Friends, Family, Associates, and Neighbors) and research them! My first post in this series discussed my ancestor, Mary Clemsy Cline, who was born about 1817 in Alabama and died after 1880 in Wise Couty, Texas.
My initial analysis showed three individuals I want to explore as part of Clemsy’s FANs: Jacob, John, and Mahala Cline. I discovered three locations for research, Morgan County, Missouri; Wayne County, Kentucky; and Izard County, Arkansas. Now I need to dig deeply into these known localities and create a focused research plan.
My objective follows. I’m hoping that researching Clemsy’s FANs will lead me to a good candidate for her father that I can test with DNA in a later project phase.
The objective of this research phase is to discover a candidate for the father of Mary “Clemsey” Cline. She was born about 1817 in Alabama and died after 1880 in Wise County, Texas. Mary “Clemsey” married William Henderson Weatherford about 1839 in Arkansas.
To corral the information necessary for creating a research plan, I recommend compiling a locality guide. The guide gives you one place to add direct links to record collections and information about the locality. Since I have three counties to research, I kept my guides small and focused on the relevant time for the research. I’m sharing screenshots from my guides to give you ideas on how to format a similar guide.
Izard County, Arkansas: 1830-1850
Digging into Izard County, Arkansas, the first known residence of Clemsy and Henderson Weatherford, I was reminded about the challenge of record loss. The county courthouse burned twice, and the FamilySearch Wiki shows county records don’t begin until 1889. When faced with this scenario, we look to other jurisdictions for research.
Copies of the tax records were sent to the state, so they escaped the record loss. The microfilm is no longer available, but an important resource is a compilation created in 1993 by Desmond Allen Walls. 1 Using this book, I found Henderson Weatherford in the tax lists for 1839 and 1845, but I didn’t find his household in the 1840 federal census, even with a page-by-page search. Perhaps the Weatherfords were living in a Cline household. With the new focus on researching the FANs for Clemsy, I could return to the tax lists and look for Clines.
Another jurisdiction to consider is the federal land patents that are not kept on the county level and would be extant. Arkansas is a federal land state, so this could be a good avenue for research. Henderson Weatherford did not patent land in Izard County, but perhaps a Cline did. After an initial land patent, any deeds recording the sale of the land or purchase of additional land would be at the county level, but with the loss of those records, the federal land patents are a good clue to land ownership.
County histories provide another resource for burned county research, and I added several resources to my locality guide. A fun new addition to my guides is an emoji after a book or collection, indicating if it is a digital collection, book at the Family History Library, digitized book, or book in my personal collection. In the screenshot below, you’ll see the blue emoji indicating the three local histories are all digitized by FamilySearch. To insert an emoji in a Google Doc, go to “insert” > emoji > then type in book or computer and select what you’d like. I created a key to use at the beginning of the locality guide to remind me what each color means.
Morgan County, Missouri
Clemsy and Henderson Weatherford left only one record in Morgan County, Missouri – the 1850 census. But this record is key to determining Clemsy’s FANs because in her household are two Cline children, and a few households away are Jacob and Talitha Cline, with Mahala and Robert Cline listed after the nuclear household. Five-year-old Robert’s birth in Arkansas is a possible connection to the Weatherford’s time in Arkansas. Although the Weatherford’s moved to Texas by 1860, Jacob Cline stayed in Morgan County. Now I want to learn more about him.
In contrast to Izard County, Arkansas, Morgan County, Missouri, has available records almost from its creation in 1833. To save time, though, I added just the records I thought would be useful to my guide. I can expand the guide as needed. Missouri also has many state records and historical collections to use. I created a Missouri Locality Guide while taking a SLIG course on Missouri and reference various notes from that course in the guide. This is one of my favorite ways to synthesize a course based on locality. I linked to that resource in my Morgan County, Missouri guide.
One of the sections for my guide included resources on geography and maps. During my Missouri institute course, Milton Rafferty’s book Historical Atlas of Missouri was recommended. 2 I purchased the book and added it to my list so I’d remember to use it! Because this book is in my collection, I gave it a green book emoji.
Wayne County, Kentucky
Finally, I needed a short, succinct guide for researching in Wayne County, Kentucky. One of Clemsy’s FANs, Jacob Cline, married Talitha Ard in 1835 in Wayne County. With online trees tracing him to a John Cline of Rockingham County, Virginia, I decided to research Wayne County, which could add clarity to the project. Wayne County has records from its beginning in 1800, so I’m hoping to be successful in finding clues to a Cline migration. I added a map of the area to my guide so I could visualize Jacob’s migration from Virginia to Kentucky to Missouri. It looks like it is basically straight west.
Once the locality guides were completed, I used them to identify sources to search. Since I had three counties to research, I added a few search items for each county.
Izard County, Arkansas
Because of the severe record loss for the time I was researching, I focused on the tax records, federal land patents, and county histories to see what I could piece together for Clemsy’s Cline FANs. The screenshot below shows my prioritized list.
Morgan County, Missouri
Morgan County has more record availability, so I could expand to land, probate, and court records. I also added a census search since I know the Clines should be there. County histories round out this plan.
Wayne County, Kentucky
Jacob Cline, Clemsy’s possible brother, married Talitha Ard in Wayne County. Could there be other Clines in the county? A possible father? A search of tax and land records, the 1830 census, and county histories should give me a good look at this question.
I’m looking forward to seeing what details I can learn about Clemsy’s Cline FANs using this focused research plan. Stay tuned to see what my research discovered.
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!