Monday, July 13, 2009

Madness Monday: Isaac Staples

Many years ago, early in my genealogy career, my great-aunt and -uncle sent me a letter they had received from James Staples, head of the Staples Family History Association. Since I had become the family's historian, they passed Jim's request for information along to me. I called Jim to talk about my Staples family and discovered that if I could trace my line back to someone born around the time of the Revolutionary War, the Staples Family History Association had records on all Staples family members prior to that time. I was so excited! All I had to do was trace one century of ancestors from my great-grandfather, born in 1878. As it turned out, this wasn't as many generations as I expected, since the line went through a couple of youngest children, but it was pre-Internet days, so it took me a little while. After a lot of census work, some Vermont vital records microfilm searches, and a couple of Civil War pensions, I had my answer. I was a descendant of one Isaac Staples, born circa 1772, died 4 February 1839 in Williamstown, Vermont.

I wrote my first research report - by hand - and sent it off to Jim. I still use this research report as a class example. Despite its relative simplicity, it contains all the elements found in the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, including a proof summary and citations. Of course, the citations don't measure up to the standards of Evidence Explained, but I can tell exactly where each fact was found. Given the title of this post, I'm sure you know the reply I received. My Isaac Staples was not one of the people found in the family association's records. After more research and much correspondence, Jim and I came to the conclusion that my Isaac was probably a descendant of Joseph of Pomfret. Joseph was probably the son of Samuel of Groton. I was probably going to scream in frustration!

Jim sent me a hand-drawn descendant chart showing what was known on the line of Joseph Staples of Pomfret, Connecticut. He placed my research results on the Isaac Staples of Williamstown, Vermont, line in a large empty corner. Despite my disappointment, this chart made my research seem important. Remember the comment from Tony Burroughs' SoCal Genealogy Jamboree presentation? This was original work. I've added a lot to that corner in the years since, but I still haven't found Isaac's parents. As opportunity arises, or I learn a new technique or come up with a new idea, I return to Isaac Staples and his associates for a while. Although I've climbed over, dug under, gone around, or broken through many brickwalls over the years, it's disappointing to realize that my very first brickwall still stands.

Are there any fellow Isaac Staples researchers out there?

No comments: