Forget the sledgehammer. Find the drill for your brick walls.

In my quest to join the DAR, my one identified and proven Patriot (so far) required a 90+ page proof argument to connect him to his granddaughter, where my brick wall began. My paternal line has a non-paternal event, so there's that, too. So, one helping with my lineage application is excited. The state DAR registrar said, "share your tree with us, and we'll look for another Patriot in a different lineage" or something similar. So I did, with the explanation that Every. Single. One. of my lineages has a brick wall. I haven't tackled most of them, because they take years (or 90+ pages of proof argument) to resolve.

All home-grown southerners have loads of brick wall lineages. But when we start to tackle them, we can begin small and not be overwhelmed. One of my first steps in identifying unknown parents of a documented child is to ask myself: "How did these two (documented ancestors) meet?" or "Why do these ancestors live here?" Think about it. Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG® said (I'm paraphrasing),

"Back then, if a man was looking for a wife, he probably traveled in a 10-mile radius of where he lived. If the potential wife had a good horse, he might have gone 20 miles." So take a historical map of the time, and plot a 10 and 20 mile radius. Now you've got a targeted search area."

Of course there are exceptions to consider. There are always exceptions. For example, Georgia's land lotteries prompted ancestors to relocate to areas sometimes farther than 20 miles from where they were residing. Free land was attractive. Be sure to check all of the Georgia land lotteries: Many of the lottery fortunate drawers are online at different sites or at your local library. Paul K. Graham's site has a few books: The county where the fortunate drawer entered the drawing is identified.

If your documented ancestor served in the War of 1812, bounty land could have been awarded to him and sometimes his widow based on his service. Be sure to check the patents at if your ancestor was from Georgia but you've found him, for example, in Alabama. If it's an early ancestor, remember to check Georgia's headright and bounty documents at,_Headright_and_Bounty_Land_Records_-_FamilySearch_Historical_Records.

The first thing to remember is to ask "How did they meet?" and "Why are they living here?"Ask questions; find answers. Take small steps first.

Research smarter, not harder.