12 February 2017

Writing to Find the Gaps

Keeping track of my research on my personal family tree is an ongoing project in itself. It is very easy to get sidetracked (oooh, look at that document!) while trying to focus on a single individual and research question.

I spent much of the last year focusing on my Shelton ancestors. At the beginning of 2016, they were the family I knew the least about. I had the fewest documented facts about them. I could only go back one generation past my Shelton grandmother. A year makes quite a difference. My Shelton ancestors are now perhaps the best documented part of my tree.

And now I'm faced with the question: Do I continue working on the Shelton line or do I spend time on other branches of my ancestry? To help make up my mind, I decided to write a genealogical summary of what I have documented for each of my four major lines of research. The results of that effort show I definitely have gaps in my documentation.

The summary for the Shelton line contains three generations ending with my great-grandfather. The documentation includes census records, vital records, and court records.
  1. Isaac Z Shelton (abt. 1847 - 1929) and Amanda Pruitt (abt. 1853 - 1940)
    1. Isaac Denton Shelton (1892 - 1924) and Margaret Adelia Rice (abt. 1886 - 1972)
      1. George Alvin Shelton (1907 - 1998) and Vesta Estelle Hudson (1912 - 1991)
The Desjarlais line also contains three generations ending with my great-grandfather, though the documentation is heavily reliant on just census records. The information I currently have in my database is sparse.
  1. Jean-Baptiste Desjarlais (abt. 1842 - ?) and Eugenie (abt. 1845 - ?)
    1. Edouard Alma Desjarlais (abt. 1866 - ?) and Azama May Joubert (abt. 1865 - ?)
      1. Eugene Alphonse Desjarlais (abt. 1897 - ?) and Elodia Varin (1898 - ?)
My summary of the Ciske line is much like the Desjarlais line. It is heavily sourced from census records. There is a bit of flavor for Franz Cziske, my first direct line ancestor to immigrate to the United States, which is a step in the right direction.
  1. Franz Cziske (1835 - before 1900) and Justina Malest (after 1839 - 1926)
    1. John Ciske (1871 - 1876) and Christina Schubert (1865 - 1950)
      1. Gerald Lawrence Ciske (1901 - 1990) and Leona Strelow (1906 - 1998)
Of my Ratzman ancestors, I know very little. I have traced back to my second great-grandfather, though I only have his and his wife's names. Perhaps they are my focus for the year so that I can catch them up to the others.
  1. Edward T Ratzman (? - ?) and Alice Sailer (? - ?)
    1. Gordon Edward Ratzman (abt. 1907 - ?) and Margaret Boelter (abt. 1908 - ?)
The act of formally writing a report, for my own files, summarizing what I know and have documented for each line, has given me new insight into possible research paths for the future. There are branches that are flowering, while others are a tad stunted.

photo credit: Andi Campbell-Jones Scottish Weather via photopin (license)


  1. Hello Phillip and thank you for posting your transcriptions of the Isaac Z. Shelton deeds and Shelton/Pruett research. I am helping a friend research her family. I believe she is a direct descendent of Isaac through his daughter, Lula Belle Shelton who married Harvey Dillard Rogers. I have not found their marriage record and so it is possible the Lula Belle Shelton who married Harvey is a different Lula Belle Shelton.
    Susan Kimes Burgess

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I have come across records relating to Lula Belle Shelton and Harvey Dillard Rogers but have yet to pursue that line as of yet. I'll see what I can dig up.
      - Phillip

    2. I had an opportunity to look into Lula Belle Shelton, the wife of Harvey Dillard "Dock" Rogers, from the point of view of my research. While far from exhaustive, the evidence does suggest that she is the same Lula Belle who is the daughter of Isaac Z Shelton. I have not been able to locate more than one Lula Belle Shelton in White County, Tennessee, or in the surrounding counties for the time period.

      I located a marriage license for Lula Belle Shelton and Dock Rogers on Ancestry. Lula Belle and Harvey appear to have married in White County, Tennessee, on 6 January 1903. [1] Rogers applied for a marriage bond and license on 4 January 1903, and the minister, Bluford Collins, indicated the marriage took place on the 6th. They had moved to Montana by the 1910 census, likely before 1907-1908 given their son William is listed as two years old on the 1910 census. [2]

      I hope this provides some possible research avenues to assist in your research.

      - Phillip

      1. "Tennessee, State Marriages, 1780-2002," database, Ancestry (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1169) > White > 1839 - 1910: Marriage Records > image 876 of 1220, Dock Rogers and Lulla Shelton, 4 January 1903; citing Tennessee State Library and Archives.

      2. 1910 US census, Fergus County, Montana, population schedule, School district 9, p. 119 (stamped), p. 4A (penned), enumeration district 118, dwelling 55, family 55, Harvey D. Rogers; digital image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLCQ-T1Y : accessed 6 September 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 831.