0. A Few Notes on My Methods and Madness
Updated: Jan 8, 2021
If you are reading or have read some of my posts on the genealogy of the Garlock family, I want to be sure you understand what you are reading. There is no book that this story comes from. I have pulled these stories together from the bits and pieces of genealogical and historical information that is available. It is an effort that is equal parts, research, puzzle-solving, and story telling. Very few first hand accounts from the individuals in the stories are available. So I have done my best to piece together life stories from whatever I can lay my hands on.
What is available today is really quite incredible. The internet has put tons of documents at my fingertips with just a few key strokes. My primary sources have been:
U.S. census data
State census data
A multitude of on-line histories available on the Internet Archive
and a few written notes by the participants in this story
There were many counties and states that commissioned histories of their respective jurisdictions in the late 1800’s in honor of our country’s centennial. They are fascinating to read and give a very good idea of what life was like in that era.
Ancestry.com is an incredible tool. Other people with interest in the Garlock family history have posted their findings, documents, photos, etc. These are available for my use. Additionally, there are multitudes of other family trees on the site that allows me to try to piece together our family history.
And yet, there is a lot missing. If you think about your own life, how much of it is really documented anywhere? It’s a small fraction. And most of what I’m trying to do is research events from over 100 years ago. So needless to say my stories have many holes in them. As you go farther back in time, the data gets harder to find, harder to read and generally less accurate. Many records have been lost to fire, floods and the ravages of time.
For me, this is has been a fun adventure, learning about history, my family, and then trying to puzzle together a cohesive story. It’s not easy. Life doesn’t flow as a single narrative. There are many detours, side stories, and gaps. Some people I have very little information about, some have a wealth of documentation. For example, my great grand-father Rev. Charles William Garlock was easy to research. He showed up in the census’ of the 1800’s and 1900’s, and was the topic of over 100 newspaper articles due to his charismatic, and sometimes controversial profession - traveling evangelist. His wives, Agnes and Fidelia, not so much.
Also, some names are easier to research than others. Garlock is not a particularly common name, but there are other Garlocks out there that can confuse the issue. There are Charles Garlock’s by the score nation-wide and I even found three Helen Garlock’s in Iowa. But Garlock is relatively easy when compared to my other maternal great grand-parents: Frank and Christina Miller. Do you know how many Frank Millers there are? In 1915 in the Sioux City directory there were six Frank Millers. So when a newspaper story comes up about Frank Miller, I have a very hard time knowing if it is the right Frank Miller.
Another note for the ladies. Women in general are not as well represented as they should be. Often the reference is, for instance, Mrs. Charles Garlock, or even worse Charles Garlock and his wife. In the U. S. Census data prior to 1850, only the head of household name was given - i.e. the man. The real “head” of the household, the wife, is simply listed as one of the women with no name given.
Finally, please remember that this whole thing is a work in progress. The further I get into the story, the more facts I find, and I may write something that conflicts with an earlier story. I am trying to go back and make corrections, but that too is a big effort. I decided to put these posts out in a serial fashion like this rather than try to publish one big narrative at the end of my efforts. We’ll have to see where this leads.
And why am I doing this? Well, it’s a pretty simple answer… I retired in October of 2019. Ann and I had big plans that were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. So I needed something to keep me busy. I was not trained in history, genealogy, or writing, I was an engineer by profession. But, I love puzzles and this is the greatest puzzle of all time. I want to document this so my kids will have the story to tell their families.
Time is funny. I knew my grand-father Garlock - he was born in 1890. And I now have grandchildren, who if they live as long as my grandpa, will live into the next century. That is a span from the years 1890 to 2110. That is 220 years of people I know (knew) personally. Wow!
I’ll get this thing started, hopefully somebody in the future will keep it going.
Your Humble Correspondant,