31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 12

31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 12: Version 2.0


31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 12

I’m taking Amy Crow’s challenge for 31 Days to Better Genealogy and blog Amy’s questions, with my answers; I plan to make one blog post, adding daily. Hopefully by the end of the 31 days, I will learn how to better solve some of my genealogy questions. If you haven’t signed up yet, just click on the link below… never too late to catch up!

31 Days to Better Genealogy by Amy Johnson Crow gives you practical steps to make your research more productive. Whether you are just beginning to climb your family tree or have been doing this for years, you can adapt the tips and methods in 31 Days to Better Genealogy to suit your needs

Day 12 – Try a Different Way to Search


Yes Amy, I guess I do search and think that “one size fits all“, but just like buying clothes… They Don’t! So I’m planning to try and think “out of the box” with your new tips!

I do enjoy learning new tips on searches… so here goes. Amy suggested to search more using the wildcard of “*” for zero or more characters in a name and “?” for one and only one character. I have never searched for wildcards before – why – well I don’t know! I guess because I’m more of a “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” kind of person. To use the * function, you must add at least three characters in the name before the *.

So I tried first the * wildcard using my grandfathers name as my guinea pig search.

In the search box on Ancestry, I typed McK*y – Why you ask – well I knew what I was really looking for, because it had taken me long enough to find it the old fashioned way.



Can you find what I was looking for? It’s a test?

Thank You Amy for teaching me this tip – I just wish I had learned it sooner and I wouldn’t have spent my time searching Greene County… page by page…. to find him because the regular search wasn’t turning him up. By searching with the * wildcard…. Bingo… I instantly found my grandfather in the 1940 census. By now, I’m sure you have seen why I had never found him – and with No Thanks to either the census enumerator or the census transcriber!

OK, now I’m on a roll, so I decided to test the theory on another problem, that I had already resolved – the hardway!

Searching for my Joseph Thomas Sharp in the 1870 Georgia census had always turned up empty… leaving me frustrated. I had found him and Narcissa (Meadows) in 1860, they began their family, then he went off to fight in the Civil War. I knew he returned as he showed in 1880 with children – but no spouse! So now I had two problems, his wife had died between about 1773 and 1880, but where were they in 1870 – she had been alive as the children proved that. I searched in other states, others even searched for me, and still nothing. Recently I found them…. I had gone back to the 1860 census, looked at his neighbors and realized he was living next door to his brother. I searched for his brother in 1870 and didn’t immediately see him – but I soon noticed a name I recognized – Narcissa…. and further looking, there was Joseph and their children, but what was the problem – see below.


I bet you’ve found my problem – or questioning what happened!

In using a “wildcard”, I typed in Narcissa and adding only Sha* as her last name. That didn’t show me what I was trying to prove, so I went back and changed my search to Joseph Thomas Sha* – trying to prove my theory – Narcissa Butler jumped out to me….

Sharp 1870 wildcard census find.jpg

And who was Narcissa Butler you ask? Well she is the the wife of my Joseph T. Sharp – who is directly above her.


I’m sure by now, you’ve figured out for yourself, with an “Aha” – as to why she was listed as Narcissa Butler… well if you haven’t, let me tell you. Scott Butler lived on the farm next to Joseph T. Sharp, and it seems that when the census enumerator arrived to visit the Sharp family, he forgot to document he was taking the records of a “new” family – he continued adding their names under the Butler family name. Well there’s another speculation… maybe this census enumerator had been nipping from his flask that afternoon – but that’s just me being funny! Well after all, it had to have been a boring job as I’m sure people weren’t always friendly – they didn’t like the government knowing their business.

I was ecstatic when I found my Joseph and Narcissa in the 1870 census that day – but Amy’s tip would have solved two of my brickwalls in one morning; I won’t tell you how long I’ve been looking for the two of them…. so don’t ask!

I’m learning – learning to not be so hard-headed and thick-headed in my way of thinking. There are easier ways to break down those brick-walls…. just take the time to learn them!

So what did you find?

Click Here For More 31 Days to Better Genealogy

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 31 Days to Better Genealogy: Ver. 2.0, Daily Writings and funnies... and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 12

  1. Sylvia (grandadbeck.co.uk) says:

    A really useful tip, I know about wild cards but didn’t know Ancestry recognised them. I have often found it is the transcript that is wrong and found people by using different Sites. Some names are more difficult to transcribe. My Great Grandmother is Illes, so I am not surprised it gets written and transcribed incorrectly. Enjoying your blog, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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