Of the things I am good at, staying on task for extended periods of time is not one of them. I often amaze even myself at how far astray my focus can veer when a newer, shinier distraction is dangled in front of me.
Like this email:
I just found a scrap of paper from my trip to Johnstown 2 yrs. ago. I was looking for an ancestor on the Davis side. I have pretty good records up to this particular Davis. He was Sergeant Isaac Davis, enlisted 1778 as a private in Capt. Veeder's Company, Col. Visscher Regiment. He was born in 1752 and his wife was Sarah Smith. He is listed in Vol. 40 Page 407 of the Muster & Payroll of Revolutionary War 1775-1783. Vol for 1914-15 of Collections of NY Historical Society(2V) 494. I wish I had kept better notes and I may have but just haven't found them yet. Anyway, this is the ancestor that I would like to pursue for DAR because he would go up to my Gr.-Grand Erastus Corning Davis. I'd like that direct line. Any ideas how to do it? My father, Aunt Grace and Aunt Helen all searched for him and I believe what I found is the only record of his that we know about. I have records of his son? Matthew and then straight to Erastus C.
What followed was a bit over a year, off and on, spent learning about genealogical research. Because who is going to say "no" to their mom? I put up a tree on ancestry.com and we met a new distant cousin who is also researching the Davis family and found we have a lot in common—right back to our first U.S. ancestor, and his DNA. Every once in a while I would find a small bit of new information and put it into the puzzle, but still couldn’t find any documentation that Matthew was the son of Isaac. And no other family tree on the internet has a Matthew in this family. I know because I looked at all of them.
Did you know that Ancestry.com is like Facebook on crack for old people? You think you’re just going to click one leaf then stop, but before you know it, you haven’t showered in a week and your kid is eating fried bread for every meal because you're too hopped up on the thrill of deciphering Muster Rolls to grocery shop or cook.
Now that I’m fairly well versed on how to dig up records, and find primary sources for US ancestors, I’ve adopted the title of Accidental Genealogist. And because I do this as a hobby, and I’m a Yankee at heart, I’ll be sure to share all the good places to find records for free as I document the search for the elusive Matthew Oliver Davis.