It was clear that I needed a way to organize my research and to catalog the family members I was aware of, and for those I would undoubtedly discover along the way. I heard of Family Tree Maker by Ancestry.com and decided to give it a try. In retrospect, I wish I had taken more time to consider other tools. FTM has worked very well, especially in conjunction with the subscription service that produces those little "shaking" leaves, but I did learn one valuable lesson.
Don't be too eager to embrace anything and everything other researchers have published on Ancestry--they could be wrong. After hurriedly filling in all the new ancestors I thought I had found on the site, I started to notice some of the Ancestry member information, which was the source for many of the new finds, contained incorrect dates of birth, death and marriage on some distant family members. In all those cases, I have copies of vital or other written records that contradicted much of the “unsourced” information on Ancestry’s website. Fixing some of that has been very time-consuming, not to mention the laborious task of adding “hard” sources whenever I can to fill in the gaps. It’s more work that you might think. In any event, I learned to think through all information and look for thorough documentation before drawing conclusions about individuals in one family line or another. Initially, I let the thrill of the hunt get in the way of better scholarly judgment. Genealogical research is fun, but it can be confusing if you don't document your sources. Lesson learned. I intend to touch on some of those issues in later blog posts.
I am fortunate that my mother's younger sister is still available to help fill in the gaps. I gave my Aunt Sally Niday a call to see if she had any information I could use. Sure enough, she said the "H" in Al's middle name was "Hersol", but she wasn’t sure of the exact spelling. She also mentioned that Al had a sister named "Catherine", and that she lived in Springfield, Missouri at the time my mother and father met. Wow, all that information for the asking. Thanks, Aunt Sally! I was hot on Albert's trail and felt very close to discovering more about my father.
Unfortunately, that's where the trail went cold. Albert didn't show up in the Social Security Birth and Death Index on line, or for that matter, any of the enormous number of Ancestry databases. I searched many other on-line databases to include the Missouri Digital Heritage Death Records and the Family Search site. Nothing. The summer of 2009 came and went with little to show for the effort. Not all was lost, however. I did uncover a flood of information on many other family lines, but unfortunately nothing on the Pounds surname.
Stay tuned for Part III of "Finding Al" where I discuss the many exciting tidbits of information discovered about Al, to include clues uncovered through his military records.