Has there ever been a tool as great as the net for finding info as well as people? Rickey and I have met many “long lost” family members who have found us just that way. We recently found two more when Michael Kerley and his dad contacted me via Ancestry.com. To make a long story a little shorter, we have now all met, are friends, and have tied up a few more loose ends in the Kerley/Peacock families.
One of the things that interested me about Michael is his age. He began his search for family info at the ripe old age of 19, and he had basically nothing to work with. Here’s what he knew:
1. His grandfather’s name, birthday, and death date.
2. He knew his great-grandfather’s name was John A. Kerley, but not what the A stood for.
3. He knew his grandfather’s mother was named Elizabeth Harris, but nothing more.
Not a lot to begin with, but as it turned out, it was enough. Today, Michael is 21, and he has surpassed my own research, which is pretty extensive. I asked him to explain just how he began his journed to figure out from whence he came, so to speak.
“I started out by going to familysearch.org, and I looked up Texas birth and christening records. I found my grandfather, Chester Kerley’s, birth certificate. This was really interesting because I had figured out that Chester’s dad, John A. Kerley, had been married twice, but I did not know who all of his children were. That birth certificate showed that four children had been born but that only three were living.
“Then I typed in father J.A. Kerley and mother Elizabeth Harris and found that their son, Billy, had died of congenital malformation of the heart.
“The next thing I did on familysearch.org was look at the Texas Death Index and search for various Kerleys.”
From there, Michael went to ancestry.com and looked at the 1930 census, searching for John A. Kerley. He found him there with his wife, Elizabeth, and their children as well as a daughter named Bonita from his first marriage.
J.A. Kerley couldn’t be found on the 1920 or 1910 census, but it was a big BINGO when Michael studied the 1900 census because there he was with his parents and siblings!
“This was the first time I knew who John A. Kerley’s parents were.”
Finally, Michael had something to work with, and….it was at this point that he found my information on Ancestry and saw for the first time photos of these people. From here, the ball started rolling and two years later, Michael has all kinds of information, obits, newspaper clippings, photos, family lore, etc.
In less than three years time, he has discovered 6 generations of Kerleys, 3 generations of his Harris and Landers family, and 3-4 generations of Peacocks. He has also visited us here in Comanche and met all kinds of family members that only a couple of years ago he didn’t even know he had!
And hopefully….if you have been considering trying to find info on your own family….you’ve picked up a clue here on how to get started. If Michael can do it, you can too!