My biggest brick wall in researching my family tree
My bggest brick wall, by far, is my lack of familiarity with different places - the lack of local knowledge and local context. My family has been very mobile over the last 5 generations due to events like the Great Starvation in Ireland and escaping the Nazi Occupation of Jersey in World War II. Researching these places is a real problem. Let me illustrate with a recent example. This month my wife and I took a trip to Ireland to track down details about my Great Great Grandfather ARCHIBALD MAGUIRE who was born there in 1828. All we knew was that he came from Strabane. We took a trip to see Strabane but it made no sense because we had no context. We learned that they had parishes but we don't understand how those parishes interact eg is there any importance in the fact that some are religious and some civil? Do people intermingle between parishes or did they remain separate? We didn't even know how it looked in Archibald's day and if the bits we saw even existed in his day. This problem was really brought home on our return to Jersey. We discovered Archibald's military service record. His place of origin was recorded as Ardstraw a little parish on the edge of Strabane and an area we had missed entirely because we remained in the town. Without context, nothing makes sense. Was Ardstraw posh or poor? Was it important or minor? Was it catholic or protestant - it has a presbetyrian church but is that important? The wife is talking about going back. What we will need if we do is a local guide Our next step is to contact the Strabane Local History group and quiz them on the area to give us a better idea.
I have the same problems with Portland in Dorset, Leysters in Herts, Wilberfoss in Yorkshire, Darlington in County Durham and even Bermuda. And each new name seems to bring a new location onto my list