Monday, February 20, 2012

Brick Wall Dismantled

Since I started researching my family tree my biggest brick wall has been my paternal grandmother. She died shortly after my parents were married and by the time I started asking about her the only close sources I had were my mother and my older sister. The only paternal grandmother I knew was my  step-grandmother (my grandfather's second wife) who insisted that we call her "Aunt Lorraine."

The initial information I was given was that her name was Margarite Mary Smith (my sister, Margaret Mary said that she was supposed to be named after her and they didn't find out the mistake until the the birth certificate was issued), and she died before my parents were married in 1955 (possibly 1950).

When I entered this information in I got no results that made any sense. I set it aside and worked on other lines.

In the meantime, I cancelled my subscription to and otherwise stepped back from research as life, as it has a habit of doing, demanded my attention.

Then, early last year (don't know when - no research log then), my cousin Susie visited and brought pictures and a funeral card for our grandmother which showed the day she died.

Margaret Mary (Smith) Hunsicker

Funeral Card

She also gave me some pictures and the names of her parents (Michael A. Smith and Elizabeth Dickson.
Elizabeth and Michael Smith
At the time my only research activity was matching family trees on I got no matches so I set this aside.

Recently I became interested in my family tree again and started listening to podcasts including the excellent ones provided by Lisa Louise Cooke. I renewed my subscription to

Today, I entered the above information for my grandmother and her parents and found a 1910 US Census that included Margaret Smith and the rest of her family (including siblings). I now have my grandmother's immediate family including her eight siblings. A 1900 US Census provided the birth year and month for her parents and her older siblings.Since (per the same census) Elizabeth immigrated from Scotland in 1887 and Michael's parents were born in Ireland, further research will have to cross the pond.

It was very exciting and satisfying to bring down this long lasting brick wall and I look forward to climbing this particular branch of my family tree in the future.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Here are my long term goals for my Family History research:

1. Learn more.

2. Clean up and properly source my family tree.

3. Identify and organize the assorted papers, photos, and etc. that I have received.

4. Communicate my results and participate in the Genealogy Community.

I will detail what I am doing to achieve these goals and give updates on my progress in future posts.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A brief history of my family history research

I had been thinking about checking my family history for a long time but did not begin until about 1997 or 1998. At that time I wrote down all that I knew and started asking questions of my immediate family. This gave me information about my immediate family and my grandparents.

Then my mother gave me some typed (remember typewriters?) papers that were so old that the staple holding them together was rusted. It was titled "The Stauffer Family" and gave me incomplete information about my Stauffer ancestors back to the Civil War.

About 2001 or 2002 I went on and started looking for information on my grandfather Clifford S. Hunsicker. The search led to a page in a book. This book, A Genealogical History of the Hunsicker Family, would give me my Hunsicker ancestors all the way back to 1700. Up until this time my entire family believed that our ancestry was German but it turns out that our first ancestor in America was Valentine Hunsicker who was from Switzerland.

Since then I have identified myself as the Family Historian and have received a lot of items (mostly photos) but also some documents and copies of documents.

My father, William Robert Hunsicker, passed away in December 2002. My mother, Dorothy Mae Stauffer Hunsicker, passed away in 2007. Fortunately, I was able to share most of this information with her before then.

I received a communication through from someone who asked about Emily Farquahar who is my grandfather Clifford Hunsicker's mother (my great grandmother). It turns out that she is my first cousin once removed (daughter of one of my grandfather's brothers). I learned about a great uncle and a great aunt that I was not aware of.

I was recently given a much updated version of "The Stauffer Family" in a loose leaf binder which included tombstone pictures for a lot of the persons listed.

My efforts to this point have been infrequent and inconsistent (a lot of the items I have been given are unorganized). I am now going to learn from the resources available within the Genealogy Community so that I can bring order to the chaos that I have created.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hello, everyone. My name is Bill Hunsicker. I have been researching my family history off and on for about the last 15 years or so. I define an Amateur Family Historian as someone who is only interested in researching his or her own family history and is not interested in becoming a certified professional genealogist. This defines me perfectly. I am researching the surnames Hunsicker and Stauffer, the surnames of my father, William Robert Hunsicker, and my mother, Dorothy Mae Stauffer, respectively.

I have recently discovered the online Genealogy Community and that is what has motivated me to both blog about my research and take it to the next level. I will be talking about my efforts to improve the quality of the data in my family tree and learn more about genealogy in general.