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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao-tzuThe Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

I had a myriad of choices available to me on what my first step into researching my family tree would be.  Sources are available in many places.  Libraries have many genealogical resources available, especially on the local level.  There are many resources available on the Internet.  There are historical and genealogical societies in abundance.  States have archives available for those tracing their roots, though what items are available readily can vary widely from state to state.

Since I live far away from where my grandparents grew up in Malden, Missouri, I decided that it might be best to start my search online.  Poring over local history resources I felt, would be better once I knew more about my family.  I knew that with genealogical societies, there would likely be a membership fee involved, and I decided again, that would be something that could wait.

About the time I was getting ready to start my search, my husband and I had been watching the NBC show “Who Do You Think You Are?” on Hulu.  I knew that they did much of their searching online through Ancestry.com, and it was there I decided to take my first step into online research.  I knew that I could sign up for a 14-day trial for free, and after that I could do a subscription if I chose.

So, starting with myself, I started entering the information I had gathered.  My first step was inputting all the names, dates, and places that I had gathered together.  It didn’t take long, and it didn’t take long to Ancestry.com to show me a potential next step to take.

Ancestry.com has a little green leaf appear next to a name that has a “hint” to look into.  A hint could lead you to a historical document, or it could lead you to the family tree of someone else that might be researching the same people you are.

One of the first hints I got led me to the 1900 US Census, where I found this record of my grandfather and his family:

Excerpt from the 1900 US Census

What was strange to me at the time was the fact that while the family was in Missouri, they weren’t anywhere near Malden!  This census was from Daviess County, which is more to the north and west of the state; Malden is nearer to the southeast corner of Missouri.

Yet, the names of my grandfather and the aunts and uncles my father had told me were correct, and my father had said that there were eight children in all.  One thing caught my eye though.  In this particular census, they had asked a question about how many children a woman had given birth to, and how many living children she had.  My great-grandmother had eight living children, but she had given birth to nine!  What had happened to this ninth child?  It looked like my adventure now had given me a mystery to solve.

In this census, I also found I had new destinations on my journey.  While Missouri was where my grandfather Floyd R. was born, it was not where some of his siblings were born, and neither of his parents were born there.  Five of my grandfather’s siblings were born in Nebraska, and my great grandparents were both born in West Virginia.  Their parents were born in Virginia and West Virginia.

And what of the mystery ninth child?  Was he/she born in Missouri, Nebraska, or even West Virginia?  Could the child perhaps have been born somewhere in between these places as my great grandparents traveled west?  More hints awaited me, and more steps would be taken on this genealogical journey of mine.