As I mentioned in my last post, a while back I’d come across an index of marriage registrations in Wolverhampton, England, which had a listing for my great-uncle Collin and his wife — a woman named Clemise Wilson.
Before my recent discovery, when I’d been searching for documents for Collin, I tried looking for documents for Clemise as well – a birth or death certificate, anything. But I hadn’t had any luck.
One evening last week, while sprawled out on my couch and checking social media, I came across a tweet which had a link to a post giving tips on what it claimed was an effective approach to finding relatives through searches on the genealogy site I frequent. It’s called the “wildcard”.
The article explained that it wasn’t unusual for people who indexed records for previously deceased ancestors to either input names incorrectly, or for officials who filled out the original records to be inconsistent with spelling names. Either they wrote the names the way they heard them, or were simply poor spellers.
The “wildcard” search involved using asterisks or question marks in place of letters, in order to trigger different results.
So, on a whim, I decided to test out the method. I typed in part of Clemise’s name, using an asterisk.
In a matter of seconds, I was looking at her birth certificate.
And her name wasn’t Clemise. It was Clemice. No wonder I couldn’t find her before.
Armed with brand-new information, I went to the family tree I’d constructed on Ancestry and plugged in her birth date.
Almost immediately after saving her profile, three hints materialized.
In a matter of moments, I learned when she arrived in England …
And when she died.
Considering the weeks – even months – when countless searches turned up nothing, when inquiries on different forums didn’t yield a single answer, and the frustration and impatience I’ve often felt with (what seemed to be) the lack of progress, finding so much information in such a short amount of time has been remarkable.
I realize this lucky streak has come to an end.
But I really don’t want it to.