Thursday, 4 April 2013

Hits and misses at the Family History Library

As part of my RootsTech experience in Salt Lake City, I visited the Family History Library to do some personal research. It was  very much a fascinating experience - so much to see and do and so little time.

I decided that I would focus on John Ball, my 4x great-grandfather, a tailor in South Molton, Devon. I had very limited information on John - much of which came from a copy of an 1815 will that I had obtained last year.  He's been bit of a mystery as his life predates civil registration. And, I have learned that there were many John Balls in Devon during that time period.  In any case, I also knew that he had married Agnes Painter in 1797 and had been recorded as a widow in the parish marriage register. So, my focus was on finding his previous wife (or wives) and any children. I had searched the website and had some leads on microfilm of parish registers which might yield some results.

Much to my chagrin, many of the microfilms were of transcriptions of parish registers and didn't yield much more information than was found in the online records on the FamilySearch website. I did find serveral marriages indexed for John Ball - one of which could have been my John Ball, but alas with nothing to corroborate the facts and details.

However, all was not in vain.  I did find a cemetery transcription for South Molton where John Ball is buried. According to the headstone transcription, John's age at death was noted as 76 - making his year of birth approximately 1739 or thereabouts.

So back to the drawing board, I go - at least armed with  another hint or clue about John's life.  I am thinking that I'll need to review what I have collected so far and contact the Devon Record Office and Online Parish Clerks (OPCs) for Devon. Substantiating facts before civil registration is proving to be a challenge.  If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear from you.

Cheers, K.

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