Part One is here. This portion is how writing up the Wallis family on this blog has really transformed the way I looked at my own line. I had the makings of a decent Wallis genealogy a few months ago lying in file folders in my basement. I had entered most of the information in my genealogical database. I don't know why, but writing up a family is so much more instructive than entering names and sources into a database. It be something with how your brain processes information.
I tackled the descendants of Samuel3 first since (i) it wasn't my line and I could be more objective; and (ii) they left a slew of wills and other great documents, so for the most part I thought they were "easier" to write up. I started working in earnest for the descendants of William3 and the view I used to have of the family has altered considerably. I knew William4 had married an Alice Abbott, but I hadn't placed her in her birth family. The minute I saw her father's name of Reuben, I knew where Reuben Wallis of Sanbornton belonged. With that came many other shifts until you see the configuration of the children of Samuel4 and William4 on the right hand columns. I had to abandon the thought that Samuel4 died at Holderness because I read all the deeds and saw that he was quite alive after 1778. I had to accept the fact that he married twice. However, with that and William3's will I came to realize how important a role Joseph5 was going to play. And of course, this has led me to a much better picture of the children of my own ancestor Nathaniel5. In fact, a few weeks of re-looking at his family and making small research strides, may soon pay off in a big, big way. [Yet another surprise].
One thing I will say for Google and the search engine that allows Google Books to be searched is that you can find material that you intuitively might not find on your own in a print collection. I had dismissed a certain marriage in Moultonborough as "not Nathaniel's child" because the bride was "of Sandwich." I wanted to place her in one of the Wallis families of Sandwich so I did my searches. Her name is the infamous Betsy, so searched the six combinations of Betsy/Betsey/Elizabeth and Wallis/Wallace with her husband's name and boom--there they were in the History of Plymouth, N.H. I would never have looked there. And why should I since they lived in Holderness? But I digress. By looking at their children and seeing the names of Nathaniel and Merribah repeated I knew she was Nathaniel's daughter.
This Betsey lived a long life born in 1774 and died in 1870. I then noticed that the youngest two of the nine children of Nathaniel lived to see the 1850 census. So did Merribah. That was four. Two clearly did not and I had their death dates. One I could not trace at all. That left my Joseph and his brother Nathaniel. Why didn't they live past the 1850 census? As it turns out that thought forced me to search again for Joseph in 1850. Same choices it seemed as always. The Joseph in Londonderry, N.H. must clearly be from the Londonderry Wallace family I thought, but via Ancestry.com's ability to see a record by just sliding your mouse over it, I noticed his age and his wife's name: Rebecca. Are you kidding? What are the odds of a Joseph and Rebecca Wallace being the right ages and hiding in plain sight in a town where they shouldn't be living? I noted this as a distinct possibility--especially because they were obviously older and living with a married daughter named Rebecca Towns.
Well, I don't know what pushed me to do this, but I kept thinking--if only New Hampshire had vital records complete like Massachusetts back to 1850. How many problems would that solve for me? Tons. Well, Londonderry isn't so far from Massachusetts. On a whim I searched Mass. Deaths and boom--there was Joseph dying in Haverhill in 1861 with a beautiful death certificate! I would never have looked for a person born in Epsom, N.H. and living most of his life in Moultonborough, N.H. to leave there in his old age and move not once but twice and over a state border.
I certainly would not have done any of this had I not decided to write up this family in a precise way with footnoted sources. It forced me to look at what I knew and what I didn't know. And now I have a whole new avenue of research possibilities in front of me. I've said it before and I'll say it again: There are no brick walls. You're just looking in the wrong place or under the wrong name. I was looking in the wrong place.