Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Solving Puzzles and Meeting Fellow Researchers

Back in 1991 when I first became interested in my VICK family’s history, John BEATTY was working on a book that would cover the first five generations of the Joseph VICK family. Since my ancestor Stephen5 was in the generation where John (and Di Ann VICK who later joined John as co-author) planned to end volume, I thought if John ever published a second volume it might be helpful if I documented all of Stephen’s descendants. So I set about to do that starting with those in Muhlenberg Co. It was when I poured through the census records that I discovered there were VICKs in the county censuses that I could not place in a tree of Stephen’s descendants.

My ancestor Stephen5 (Jacob4, Isaac3, William2, Joseph1) is on the 1816 tax list of Muhlenberg Co. (although he and his probable brother Isaiah5 may have been there earlier since Stephen last appears on the Madison Co., KY tax list for 1814). As I moved through the Muhlenberg Co. census records from 1820 to 1880, I was able to place all of the VICKs I found in a tree of Stephen’s descendants (Isaiah left Muhlenberg Co. for greener pastures without leaving any descendants in the county although he did leave his wife behind). Then on the 1880 census I found a William Robert VICK that I could not place. I learned he was William Robert6 (Josiah5, ?Robert4, Nathan3, Robert2, Joseph1). He is on the 1870 U.S. Census of Logan Co., KY, so he arrived sometime after he was counted in Logan Co. on 19 Jul 1870.

As I continued through the census records I found other VICKs that did not fit in Stephen’s tree, and I entered them in my notes as likely descendants of William Robert. In 1880 all of William Robert’s surviving children lived with him, so it was easy to account for everyone. As I recorded the VICKs in the 1900 census the task got a little more complex (especially since there is no surviving census for 1890). A lot of things happen in 20 years. Nonetheless, I knew I could easily identify Stephen’s descendants, so I figured the other VICKs were descendants of William Robert.

Simply recording names and dates with the little information in census records does not make for an interesting family history. To learn more about my VICKs in Muhlenberg Co., I subscribed to The Leader-News, the local newspaper. As I found stories or pictures of Stephen’s descendants I recorded them in my notes. Sometimes it was hard to figure out from the names in the articles, though, if the person discussed was a descendant of Stephen5 or William Robert6. The task seemed to get even harder over time. So, I started building a tree for the William Robert6 line to keep things straight.

A few weeks ago there was an obituary in The Leader-News that mentioned a Joe VICK. I knew this Joe was not a descendant of Stephen5, so I looked at my notes for William Robert6’s descendants. I discovered I could not place the Joe mentioned in the William Robert6 line. I was puzzled. I wondered if I could have made an incorrect assumption so many years ago that all the VICKs in Muhlenberg Co., who were not descendants of Stephen5 were descendants of William Robert6.

As I searched the records I came to realize that there was, in fact, another line of VICKs in Muhlenberg Co. that I had not noticed. It seemed so unlikely that there could be two lines of VICKs in a small county. How could there be three? VICK is not an unheard of surname (my Google search finds lots of stories on THE Michael VICK everyday), but VICKs (counting all the other VICK clans besides Joseph1’s family) only account for about .007 percent of the U.S. population. As I poured through the records, what it appears happened was that Joseph Sire Jackson7 VICK, probably the son of a first cousin of William Robert6 (there are so many unproven lines from Robert2), moved to Muhlenberg Co. around 1897. Since Joseph Sire Jackson7 lived near the descendants of William Robert6, I missed this new arrival.

In the process of trying to trace Joseph Sire Jackson7’s ancestry and his descendants, I have already made new contacts, and traded e-mails with other researchers and a family member of this line. Beyond finding all of the puzzle pieces and putting them together, meeting new people is one of the things that makes family history so interesting. If you are researching VICK family history, I hope you will contact me. If you are researching the Joseph Sire Jackson7 VICK line, I would especially like to compare notes.

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