Saturday, May 19, 2012

Why I Am Researching William Cardwell

I am very fortunate to have been able to attend three NGS conferences in the past few years.  These have been great opportunities to improve my research skills.  As I have listened to the experts lecture, one theme that repeatedly comes to mind. When you hit a brick wall, research your ancestor's associates.  ALL the associates - neighbors, collateral ancestors, anyone who appears as a witness in a record, etc. Our ancestors did not live in a vacuum.  They worked and lived in a community. They interacted with people other than just their immediate family.

William Cardwell was just such an associate of Jesse Haley (1803-1869).  Remember Jesse - my GGGG grandfather?  His parentage is  one of my "brick walls".  I have exhausted the search of the records for Jesse Haley. (Sometimes I think space aliens just dropped him off.)

William Cardwell is listed as a witness on the marriage registration of Jesse Haley and Temperance Owen in 1826 in Halifax County, VA.  Three other men are listed: Brackett Owen (father of Temperance), Staple Owen (uncle of Temperance), and Armistead Owen (brother of Temperance).  What was William's relationship to the couple. Was William a relative or just a friend of the bride and/or groom?

The initial phase of my research did not turn up the nature of the relationship of William Cardwell to Jesse and/or Temperance.  I do believe this William may be the William Cardwell born about 1800 and lived in Charlotte County, VA for much, if not all, of his life.  There is also evidence that Cardwells lived in Halifax County along Terrible Creek and Difficult Creek.  This is not that far from where the Sterling Haley family lived on Buckskin Creek.  This area is also not far from the Halifax/Charlotte County line where both Haley and Cardwell families lived.

So, it turns out I am researching a community.  I'm learning who interacted with whom and where they lived. Already I know more about the family names and the geography of the area than I knew when I was researching the single name of Haley.

Breaking through Jesse Haley's brick wall will be a long search.  The search into William Cardwell may not provide the answers I want.  But that's okay.  Jesse had other associates.  If William doesn't provide the answers, I will move to the next associate on the list.

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