Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fearless Females: March 20 Brick Walls

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has presented 31 prompts to honor the “fearless females” in our family trees.

Today’s prompt:  Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

from Google Images

I read one time that a person should not deem an ancestor a “brick wall” unless every reasonable source has been examined and proven inconclusive.  Since then I’ve been reluctant to even THINK that term because, in truth, I have not always sought out every possible source for the many so-called brick walls in my database. 

One such ancestor is within reach while maddeningly complicated:  Sallie Jollett, my third great grandaunt, sister to my third great grandfather. She married one William Sampson.  

I say ONE because there were at least three other William Sampsons with a wife named Sarah/Sallie, all living in and around Greene County, Virginia in the early-mid 1800s.  Two of the couples can be eliminated because of their age.  But that leaves the other two who were contemporaries. 

Even though I have studied the census records to determine which family was which, it's impossible to say. In the 1850 census, William Sampson, a miller, was living next door to James Madison Marsh, nephew of Sarah Jollett.  Since families tended to live close to one another, I might conclude that my Sarah was married to the miller. However, in that same census, Sarah Jollett's nephew John was living in the household of the other Sarah and William Sampson, the wheelwright. Both William and Sarah Sampsons seem to have a connection to the Jolletts.

So far only one document has been found to definitively point to MY Sallie Jollett:  a marriage record for Smith Sampson who claims his mother was Sallie Jollett.   Unfortunately, he was already married and on his own by the 1850 census, living in Rockingham County.  Therefore, I should concentrate my research on records such as these:
  1. A will for Smith Sampson to see if any siblings are named
  2. Wills for any of the children of either William/Sallie couple to see if Smith Sampson is named
  3. Marriage records for any of the children of either William/Sallie couple to see if Sallie Jollett is named
  4. Death records for any of the Sampson children (both families) to see if Sallie Jollett is named

These seem like fairly easy documents to obtain.  I just need to get out from behind this computer, put feet on the ground, and make my way to the Library of Virginia.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Yes! Getting to the library can absolutely make a difference. Or not.

    It would help if you could scope out the library's holdings online before venturing out. "Library of Virginia" sounds quite imposing...aka large.

    On the other hand, what about seeing if there are any holdings at the Greene County library, historical society, or genealogical society that would help you in your search?

    I don't envy you your impossible quest. On top of it all, they may all turn out to be related! Oh, why do these ancestors seem to thrive on using the same two or three names?!

  2. You are a good detective! I think you will find the answer :) Good luck!

  3. You will find the answer. I will ride with you to the library, but I'm sure I would be zero help until we got to Home Goods. LOL

  4. I admire all the detective work you do. Good luck!

  5. Good luck with your search! Reminds me of that song I used to sing to my kids..."can't climb over it, can't swim under it, can't go through it, gotta go around it..." Best of the evening to you, Wendy:)

  6. Brick Walls will come down. Sometimes one brick at a time...other times...well, maybe there's a loose brick right in the middle.