Brick Wall Bertha: Step 3 – A Genealogy Case Study

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Step 3 of the Genealogy Brick Wall Busting Process is to Analyze Everything. Let’s check back in on our case study of “Brick Wall” Bertha. What data problems will we find when we look at the big picture we have created in Steps 1 & 2?

Watch This Episode, or Continue Reading Below

If you missed the overview of Brick Wall Busting Step 3, or if you’d like to review Steps 1 & 2, you can find the links below.

Now let’s jump into Bertha’s analysis.

The Overall Picture

So far, we have gathered and reviewed all the previous research on Bertha Barton, as well as her husband, William C Barton and her daughter Carrie Carr, since they may be key to busting this brick wall. 

Next, we took all of that previous research and rearranged it on a timeline to look at it from a different perspective. (By the way, Bertha’s final timeline ended up being 55 pages long!)

Now we will zoom back out a little and look at the research and timeline as a whole to look for gaps and discrepancies.

Data Problems for Bertha

Gaps in the Timeline

As I took a broad, overall view of the timeline, I noticed several gaps in the timeline for Bertha and her family.

  • William Barton had a long gap in his timeline from 1864 when he was discharged from the militia, until 1873 when he married Bertha. That is a gap of nearly a decade! Not only did he change locations in that decade, but also spouses.
  • The eldest son, Walter, likely a son from William’s first marriage, was only listed in the 1880 US Federal Census. He should be thoroughly researched, as his records may contribute big clues to help bust this brick wall.
  • Bertha and William Barton sold land in Macon County, Missouri, but there is nothing on the timeline about how they obtained that land.

Gaps in the Records

With a view of all the records found to date on Bertha and her family, it became very apparent where there were gaps in the records that had been searched.

  • Bertha obtained land patents both in Louisiana and Oklahoma, but the full land patent files from the National Archives have not been ordered.
  • William’s pension application to the federal government was rejected. But we have not looked to see if he petitioned the state of Missouri for a pension, or if the state has any other records pertaining to his military service.
  • William and Bertha were married by GW Slone, minister MECS. But we have not looked into which church he ministered at nor if that church may have further records for the couple.

Where I am writing my thoughts

As explained in the Step 3 overview, you can make notes on the gaps, discrepancies, and other data errors in any place that that feels good to you. That may be in the Step 1 research report, in the Step 2 timeline, or you can make a fresh new report for Step 3.

I chose to start a new section at the end of the Step 1 research report for Bertha.

Keep Pondering

I am going to keep studying and thinking about the big picture for a couple of weeks, making notes as gaps, discrepancies and other ideas come to mind. I will see you back here soon to tackle Step 4 of the Genealogy Brick Wall Busting process!

Let me know how your own brick wall ancestor analysis is coming along in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your project.

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