Friday, February 26, 2010

Timeline - William Harrison Ballinger

While reading Miriam Ridkiff's posting, Using Timelines, on her AnceStories blog, I was struck by a comment she made regarding what her timeline format does for her.  She said, "it gave me a visual of the years where there are blanks."  I've put together timelines for some of my ancestors but they haven't done that for me.  So I decided to try her method.

Miriam uses a line for each year of the person's life and fills in whatever she can for that person's lifespan.  She says she has heard that "professional genealogists state that good family research will account for an ancestor's whereabouts with gaps no more than two years apart!" 

Here's a timeline for my brick wall ancestor, William Harrison Ballinger, who I wrote about for a previous Madness Monday.  William was born in 1821 and died in 1909.  You don't need to study the timeline in detail to see where the gaps are. 

What I learned:
  • I knew there was a big gap in the early years of William's life up until his marriage.  It's bigger than I realized!
  • I have more information than I thought for the time period from the mid 1850's through about 1880. 
  • I thought I had more data from the mid 1890's through William's death.  In fact, I think if I were to revisit my files, I could glean more information for that time period.  Who knows what it could lead to!
  • Finally, I am reminded that I do have some Mahaska County, Iowa land records for the 1850's that I obtained on a trip to the Family History Library a year or two ago.  I am embarrassed to say, it's in one of those piles I meant to organize and process but life got in the way.  I need to dig those out and at the very least put them in my "To Be Processed" filing system.  Who knows what a review and processing of those papers will lead to!
Thanks Miriam for inspiring me to try a new angle on a tried and true research method!  And in the process, it helped me to earn a Bronze Medal for completing Task B in the Expand Your Knowledge category of the GeneaBloggers Winter Games.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum


  1. Gosh, Michelle, I'm glad I got to be a small part of helping you out! I love the form you created!

  2. Good post, Michelle! I had read Miriam's article on her timeline method, as well, but I haven't put it into practice yet. Kudos to you for jumping in. I think I'll try this soon. I like your form also - great idea to use event, place, AND source.