It’s time to get a genealogy buddy!

For 2018, we need some inspiration and some team work. Recently, I posted on Facebook about a genealogy challenge I was experiencing, which all of us have at least one (LOL, I know this is an understatement). I am looking for William Michael Murphy, who is my great grandfather on my paternal side. On it says there are 10,417,187 historical documents with the surname “Murphy”. So why do I have a brick wall? I am wondering if it is really his name or not. Do I really have a great grandfather named William Michael Murphy? I have been researching him for “30 yrs” and nothing so far.


Per his son, my grandfather William Columbus Murphy b. 12 Oct 1881-7, his father was born in Indian Territory, but Granddad was not good on telling his own birth LOCATIONS! I have three locations for him, Des Moines, Iowa, Canton, Illinois and Halifax, Iowa which the state of Iowa says there is no such place in Iowa. (See U.S. SSA Application) GRRR…right now I only have a name. Which, in genealogical research makes this a little hard and longer to work through.


I do have the wife of William Michael, my great grandmother (Nellie McCorkle b. 1865, Greene County, TN (her parents are Rose (Henry) and John McCorkle. McCorkle was just a taken name per the Greene County, TN historical society. We do not know his the real surname -X-) and she remarried Henry Giles in 1897, as Nellie “Murphy” in Bell County, TN and they had two children Johnny Giles and Ethel Irene Giles. I have lost track of Johnny since WW1 and tracked Ethel Irene, know as Irene to her family, down to her grandchildren of her 3rd marriage.

Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979

So I “assume” she was married to William Michael and then he passed before that. When and where is a mystery. There is a thought that William Michael, who should be listed as Black but oral history says he was half Native American. This might come from him being supposedly born in Indian Territory. Who knows, he might just be White and Black. I am hoping the FTDNA Big Y I ordered on my bother will shed some support on this Murphy file. William Michael might be a coal minor, since the 2nd husband was and the locations were near coalmines. Henry and Nellie were located in the 1900 Illinois population census and he and my grandfather William Columbus are listed as coal miners. In addition, in 1905 (Iowa state census) they are in Des Moines, Iowa-which the known Buxton Coal Mine is located. Hmmm I wonder if there was a mining accident or something and he was killed.

My genealogy buddy Victoria R. says she feels my pain and she posted a response to my whine. (Victoria and I do Loudoun County, Virginia research) She says “I have a great grandfather in southwestern Arkansas by the name of John Robertson — Black, in Arkansas, named John, named Robertson. Sigh. I’ve been searching for more than “40 years” to no avail other than a 1906 marriage, a 1910 census, a 1917 WW1 draft registration, and a 1920 census. He’s dead before 1930 when widow and kids all going by Robinson. Just recently may have found a brother Tom who I stumbled upon when dutifully following up on the 1st marriage of John’s widow’s 2nd husband. A John Robertson provided surety for a Tom Robertson’s marriage to the sister of the woman who married the man who would later marry John’s widow. Hopefully researching Tom will lead to siblings and parents for John”.

images-1Now Victoria says…”Tell you what, we trade and set new eyes on these guys. I’m a firm believer in genealogy buddies”. We all help others on the research journey so it’s a great idea to swap ancestors and see if we can find new information and leads. So, hands down I agreed. We both need this fresh view.

Now we have exchanged timelines which each of us had completed on our ancestors. Our timelines has all of the known information and resources that we have logged on the ancestor. I am not that familiar with the state of Arkansas even though I lived in Arkansas for about 4 yrs. It will be a learning experience for me and I am ready for it.


I hope this tidbit has inspired you to partner up with a “genealogy buddy” or a group of buddies and let their fresh eyes take a look. We will let you know how it goes! What a great way to bring in the New Year!


familytreegirl familytreegirl logo

About familytreegirl

Shelley Murphy, aka “familytreegirl”, a native of Michigan residing in Central Virginia, Shelley has been an avid genealogist for over 25+ years researching the Davis, Marsh, Goens/Goins/Goings, Roper, Boyer, Worden, Cureton, and Murphy family lines. She is a Coordinator and faculty for the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI), presents Genealogy 101 workshops at the local community college, state and national genealogy conferences. She holds a Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and works as an adjunct professor for Averett University. Murphy is known for her inspiring and interactive “Getting Started” Methods and Strategies for genealogy research, “Time and File management” along with interesting problem-solving methodology lectures. Shelley currently has 20+ publications with Charlottesville Genealogy Examiner and the Central Virginia Heritage, a publication of the Central Virginia Genealogical Association. She is an instructor for the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI). Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, Adjunct Professor, Professional Genealogist. Volunteers for American Red Cross as a Disaster Services Instructor, facilitates financial education workshops for the last 8 years, and former licensed Real Estate Broker
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7 Responses to It’s time to get a genealogy buddy!

  1. Taryn says:

    I like this idea. You never know what a pair of fresh eyes and ideas can lead to. I help other people all the time but I never find any buddies. Lol.

  2. Pingback: This week’s crème de la crème — January 6, 2018 | Genealogy à la carte

  3. fhtess65 says:

    I’d love to find one… glad your buddy helped you!!

  4. Eilene Lyon says:

    Great concept! I have a genealogy buddy (though we’ve never called it that) – fifth cousin – and we have helped each other out on many occasions. We finally got to meet face-to-face a couple days ago!

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