Reasonably Exhaustive Research and Genealogical Proof Part I

Why should I make sure my research is “Reasonably Exhausted?”

Conducting “Reasonably Exhaustive Research” can literally be tiring and tedious. It often requires patience and a willingness to create a plan, dig for documents and other items that may not be readily available, evaluation and keeping track of your sources. I recommend you begin this process by visiting a variety of genealogy websites that offer a list of sources to aid in your research. I then look at a few of these lists and customize it to my needs. There is no point in reinventing the wheel. This list of sources is very helpful with keeping my focus on the research question. As many of you have probably experienced it is very easy to get side tracked into information that is not pertinent to your current question.

I want to make sure that my research questions are answered thoroughly by writing a genealogical proof and then providing evidence to support my conclusion.

There are five-steps to meet the Board of Certified Genealogists (BCG) standard for genealogical proofs. I want to make sure that when I construct a family history or am answering a particular research question that I am presenting credible information that is as close to the truth as possible.

Example:

My client would like to know when and where his great grandfather Alto Freed Mahoney was born?

Background:

Based on information from my client, I know that his grandfather Gaillard Mahoney was born in Clio, Marlboro, South Carolina on March 20, 1917. I had already found Gaillard with his parents Alto Freed Mahoney and Mary Coles Gaillard on the 1920 United States Federal Census in Clio, Marlboro, South Carolina. This document indicated that Alto was born in Florida and he was 32 at the time of the census. This gives me a rough estimate that he would have been born sometime around 1888.


Step one: conduct a reasonably exhaustive search in reliable sources for all information that is or may be pertinent to the identity, relationship, event, or situation in question:

Let’s take a look at the potential sources that may offer this information for Alto:

  1. Vital Records

  2. Newspapers

  3. Military Records

  4. Church Records

  5. Court Records

  6. Home Sources

  7. Immigration Records

  8. Censuses

  9. Institutional Records

  10. Published Sources

My findings: **TIP** I have found websites such as FamilySearch.Org which offers summaries of genealogy sources by location an invaluable resource.

  1. Vital Records

  2. Death Record: Dr. Alto Freed Mahoney died Aug 29, 1934 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg, North Carolina at the age of 46. He was born Dec 31, 1887 in Carabelle, Florida to Henry Benjamine Mahoney and Laura Roberts. He was married to Mary Coles Gaillard and the principal cause of death was “Aplastic Anaemia”.

  3. Birth Record: I have mailed out a request for a copy of Alto Freed’s Birth Certificate from Franklin County, Florida and am waiting for the copy.


  1. Newspapers –

Carabelle is a small city located in Franklin County, Florida. The nearby larger cities include: Apalachicola, Tallahassee, and Panama City. Carabelle is located on the southern side of the Apalachicola National Forest. Since Alto Freed Mahoney was born in 1887, I am only interested in searching for newspapers in existence around that time. We may also want to check newspapers where Alto passed away in 1934 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. There are many websites for searching newspapers with more and more being digitized every day. So far I located the following newspaper clips pertaining to my clients research question.

Clipped from Tallahassee Democrat, 22 Jul 1934, Sun, Page 3

Clipped from The Tampa Times, 03 Feb 1912, Sat, Page 10

Clipped from The Greenville News, 30 Aug 1934, Thu, Page 3

Clipped from Florence Morning News, 30 Aug 1934, Thu, Page 1

I was able to find newspaper articles mentioning Alto Freed Mahoney being from Carrabelle along with his Obituary. My hunt for further newspaper articles referencing Alto continues.

Next steps to be discussed in Part II. To be continued…

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