The Story of Lillian Redford

Hello world, I am back again. Today I was watching a webinar given by Amy Johnson Crow on The webinar was very informative and a great refresher of somethings that I was already doing. While I was watching, it reminded me of something that happened about a year and a half ago. I was talking with my Aunt Lori over Thanksgiving, and it always turns to genealogy with us. My favorite thing to do is hand her records and let her look at them. About 90% of the time she notices something that I didn’t.

This particular Thanksgiving, we were talking about the progress I was making on the Redford/Travis section of the family tree. It had been a long time since I had anything new to report for them, so I was excited to share, even though it was more Travis than Redford.

We were discussing all the different Redfords that migrated to Los Angeles, and when they were there. I had mentioned that there was one Redford girl that had just plain disappeared on me and I couldn’t find information for her anywhere. I assumed that I would eventually find a death record for her in New Jersey from before the bulk of the family left for California.

The totality of my information as of that day.
The totality of my information as of that day.

To prove my point I plugged the surname Redford into a search box, and hit enter. Then I went through all the records showing her them, to see if she saw something I didn’t.

Then it happened.

Lillian's Marriage Record
Lillian’s Marriage Record

All of a sudden, Lillian’s timeline exploded with information. I was able to add not just the one marriage but a second one. I was able to add a child and that child’s marriage. I filled Lillian’s census information in up to 1940, and I thought to myself, man, what a ride that was! I couldn’t even believe that all this information popped up, just by doing a new search.

Here comes the Kathleen twist though. It’s what always seems to happen to me, just when you think you’re done or that you’ve gotten the information, something else happens.

As I was entering Lillian’s information, I thought I might as well check her father’s death certificate to double check how long he had been living in Los Angeles. It was then I realized I needed to be more thorough in my examining of documents.

Herbert Redford's death certificate
Herbert Redford’s death certificate

It was there, right on her father’s death certificate the whole time. Informant: Mrs. Ralph Swiggart. If I had researched the informant’s name way back when I first got this record by mail, Lillian wouldn’t have been lost to me for so long!

Just chalk that one up to another misadventure in my genealogy. Here I am just proving that my personal motto should be Oops! 🙂

7 thoughts on “The Story of Lillian Redford

  1. Kevin Elliott says:

    This has definitely happened to me. I’m much more thorough when I review vital records now. They truly are gold, and well worth obtaining a physical copy whenever you have the necessary details to request one.

    • Kathleen says:

      Oh yes Kevin, it has definitely made me be more thorough when entering records. Sometimes I come back a few days later with fresh eyes just to see if I missed anything.

      • Kevin Elliott says:

        Speaking of records. A couple of years ago I started following your blog because I was particularly interested in your organization methodology. Has this changed over the last couple of years?

        I am finding that I am still just stashing all of my physical records into a box, and couldn’t retrieve them with ease if necessary.

        Also, I am having difficulty keeping track of my online records, physical records, the records I’ve requested, the records that don’t exist, etc.

        I feel like since physical records are still so fantastic to have, there needs to be a way to manage them when they exist in multiple places (i.e. scanned, attached to a tree, on a file system, in a box, etc).

        I would love your thoughts around your process, as I seek to find the “holy grail” of organization!

        • Kathleen says:

          I am not still using the same paper organization. I have moved everything into binders for now until I go through it one more time to make sure everything is digitized. It just didn’t stand up for me over time. It was a little annoying to have to go through each hanging folder to find what I needed, but nothing that took forever. The problem came once I got another huge influx of documents. My great-grandma Llewellyn definitely saved everything important. I’m convinced she was a genealogist too because it’s not even trash, it’s all great documentation. I had each surname split up into Birth, Marriage, Death, Newspaper, and Other but Llewellyn’s maiden name Other folder could have been a crate by itself!

          I suppose I could have gotten another crate with folders and split her documents up into its own space but there was just so much of it. I’m still trying to decide what to do with it all. Maybe if I had gotten it one document at a time, I would have had more patience with it. I am working on a great electronic filing system that is working, but I just don’t know what to do with the paper! I am like you, I love having them to take out and look at again. Plus when I am sharing with family, that is better to show than make them try and see a computer screen.

          I think the “holy grail” of paper organization might be as easy to find as its namesake!

          • Kevin Elliott says:

            You address the problem very well. That’s exactly what has happened to me over the last couple of years.

            I have 15 binders (most of them still empty), and I always meant to come up with a strong system for organizing and managing them. I just haven’t had the time, and with my limited time I don’t want to waste it by having to experiment with different filing systems. I just need to find a good one and stick to it.

            I am tempted to architect the solution on paper, then make some custom printouts and forms that can help shape the binders in a way that feels professional but useful. No time at the moment, but that’s something I’ll get to I think.

            Would you be willing to share more about your digital file system strategy?

            • Kathleen says:

              I will work on a blog entry to show the electronic system. It is basically a uniform numbering system between all files and programs.

              In addition to that, I am using OneNote as a sort of solution to the binders and custom printouts and spreadsheets. That is the part I will need screenshots to explain. I’m still developing it into what I need but the hardest part is getting into the habit of using OneNote. Once that is setup I should be able to function pretty well.

              Like you, I think the limited time to set things up is my biggest roadblock.

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