Did you know according to the 2000 US Census, there are 2,376,207 Smiths? Two million three hundred seventy six thousand two hundred and seven in the US. According to Wikipedia, Smith is the most prevalent last name in the UK, Australia, U.S. and the 2nd most common in Canada, 5th most common in Ireland? On Ancestry.com, there are 84,497,641 historical documents referencing Smith.
So when I found a photo among my mother's old research of a tombstone for Smith, and no details for Smiths in her family line, panic began to set in. I had a little jumpstart on her family history via Terry, Britz, Roberts, Huebotter thanks to the hard work of my sister and varying cousins - but Smith?
As I was starting to break a sweat, I remembered I wrote a post about Almarinda Smith-Terry, my 2nd great grandmother, which gave me a name to work to from Peter Smith. If you narrow any genealogy research to 100 years, it seems to get a little easier. (I can hear you laughing in the background.)
Thanks to the hard work of others, the hints on Ancestry popped up fast & furious once I started working from Almarinda to Peter. I learned early on that It's easy to get carried away clicking yes to all the hints, the hard part is to be patient and review the details before accepting. Like when you see someone born about 1830 and died about 1818 - clearly, you can't die before you are born. I also take pause when a marriage to a 2nd wife overlaps the 1st and when a child is born 5 months after a wedding. But its when you see the "children of" from other trees and there are three with slightly different names and similar birthdays that you have to stay on your toes.
Actually, it's genealogy, you always have to stay on your toes.
After a few hours of patiently researching, reading and clicking away, I've was able to navigate from Almarinda to Peter and found a few exciting images and clues along the way.
Peter Smith (abt 1764-1839) & Effie Grimsely (last name is not confirmed as Grimsley) (abt 1764-1837) of Scotland had: John Smith (1798-1873), Jane Smith (1804-1863), Nancy Smith (1807-1879).
John Smith (1798-1873) married Elizabeth Sims (1791-1858) in 1819 and they had: Nancy (1820-1900), Matthew Smith (1821-1897), Mary Smith (1823-1905), James Guthrie Smith (1825-1900), Mary "Polly" Smith (1826-?), Effie Jane Smith (1827-1890), Rebecca Jane Smith (1830-1899), Martha Smith (1833-1860), Dillard Smith (1837-?)
James Guneway (Guthrie) Smith (1825-1900) married Harriet Matheny (1825-1862) in 1846 and they had: William Monroe Smith (1847-1915), Lavina E Smith (1848-1926), Leander Leonard Smith (1852-1932), Almarinda Smith (1854-1938), Tennessee Smith (1856-1938), Malinda May Smith (1859-1931), Frances "Fannie" Smith (1861-1942)
Almarinda Smith (1854-1938) & James W Terry (1852-1932) were my 2nd great grandparents.
Roadblock in Scotland
If that tombstone is truly my golden ticket, then somewhere in Scotland was born a Peter Smith and his wife Effie that are my 5th Great Grandparents, and I'm determined to locate them. As Effie's maiden name and her proper first name are not for certain, I focused on Peter.
I tried to find the my Peter Smith on Ancestry, and one, a Mariner b. abt 1768 naturalized 9th July 1806 in South Carolina did hold possibility, but if his son John was born in North Carolina 1798, then the years didn't line up. So, I headed over to Find My Past, a UK based genealogy service that I'm hoping will have a few clues to my Scottish heritage that perhaps didn't show up on Ancestry. I quickly found 5,094 Peter Smith birth records born within 5 years of 1764 in the UK (since I'm not positive of the birth year). Great. Narrowed down to Scotland and only 347 appear. But I don't have enough clues to be certain of his birth year or city to know that any of these Peters are my Peter.
Still feeling inspired, I hunted for his marriage rather than his birth. It seems more likely that I'll track down an Effie with a Peter then find the right Peter Smith. Effie resulted in nothing so I sought out what Effie might be short for (Euphemia, Elizabeth, Evelyn), or the Scottish spelling (Aoiffe). Zero after zero results came up. Then eliminated her last name as Grimsley, as it may not be her actual last name as some kind distant relative had posted, and tried all the variations of Effie.
Bingo. Three Peter Smith Marriages to a Euphemia in 1806, 1820 and 1836. So I looked at 1806, Peter Smith of South Leith Midlothian Scotland married Euphemia Keith, but their son John was born in 1798 in North Carolina, so that's not adding up. Another wall. Back to the starting line.
This is where a professional genealogist would come in handy.
Genealogy is like solving a Rubik's Cube. All the colors on the sides are almost matched, then you twist a few more times, and colors that almost matched no longer match, so you keep spinning the frustrating puzzle until you find the right combination.
Dangit, I'm so close, I can smell the haggis.
Lucky for me, next week I'm headed attend my first Roots Tech in Salt Lake City Feb 3-6 and will be able to listen to some amazing speakers, check out some new family history technology, network with professional & amateur genealogists (like me!) and learn a few new tricks to break through this Scottish roadblock, and so much more. I can't wait.
Happy Genealogy Hunting!