Lost Ancestors: Seeking Almina Bailey’s Parents

A reader named Trudy sent in the following research question:

How do I solve this brick wall?I am looking for the parents of:


George W. Reed (1825-1912)

Almina Bailey Reed, B. June 28, 1831 (poss. NY), D. July 18, 1851 Richland County, Wisconsin

Bur. Sextonville Cemetery, Richland County, Wisconsin (Almina was the first person buried in Sextonville)

M. George W. Reed, ABT. 1850 possibly in Wisconsin

George and Almina had a daughter born June 10, 1851, name, Eleanor B. Reed

George was born July 7, 1825 in Port Leyden, New York, he died Dec. 3, 1912 in Richland County, Wisconsin

Wisconsin was in its infancy during this time period.  No recorded marriage record.  No newspapers for an obituary.  The cemetery records do not list her parents.

Trudy, when I hit a brick wall like this in my own research, I always ask myself four questions:

  1. Have I searched ALL the available records?

  2. What do siblings’ records say?

  3. Have I carefully parsed ALL the information in those records?

  4. What patterns emerge in visual charts and timelines? Do I see any holes there?

Before I can help you push past your own stalled research, I first need you to answer questions #1 and #2 for me. Here is how:

FIRST: Make a checklist of records you’ve already searched and/or collected from Almina’s life. If certain records types are not extant for her locality, be sure to note this and why. I use an excel spreadsheet to do this, but you can find simplified version on various genealogy web sites, such as this one, available at the Midwest Genealogy Center web site:


Use a checklist like this to keep track of which records exist for your chosen ancestor, where they are, which you have already searched, and which you have yet to search

SECOND: Apply this same checklist (above) to Almina’s siblings, carefully charting any clues regarding their parentage in a detailed research log. Below is a sample research log that I’ve made for one ancestor. Note how you can glance at the “Record” section and easily assess which records I’ve already searched, and which I have yet to search. You can make one chart like this for each sibling, or combine them if the records are scarce:


This is an example of one of my research logs; I couldn’t fit the entire thing in this blog post, but it also includes many records types that I searched without success. It is important to keep track of records where the ancestor was *not* found, because an ancestor’s absence says a lot (either about their life, or your research methods).

I made this research log in Excel, but you can make them in Word with tables (I prefer Excel because it lets me sort the records by date, name, etc.) If you will compile a detailed research log for this ancestor and send it to me, I’ll be better able to help you identify where else you might be able to search.

Thank you for your question, Trudy–I can’t wait to see what your charts and checklist say, so that we can decide on your next move! 🙂



One thought on “Lost Ancestors: Seeking Almina Bailey’s Parents

  1. I found an Almira Bailey, born 6/20/1831 in New York and died 7/1851,on a family tree that can be publicly searched. My hunch is that this is the same person, though I did see Almina Reed with a birthdate of 6/28/1831 on findagrave. On the tree,her parents are listed as Chauncey Hyde Bailey and Eleanor Nellie Burnett. I don’t know if you have already found the information you are looking for, but I hope that this might give you a clue as to where to look if you are still seeking. Happy hunting! Theresa


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