Regular readers of this blog may already know that I’m a big fan of Marsha Hoffman Rising. I’ve written several posts about her work. Today’s review is about a four-volume work, which was the result of 16 years of undoubtedly dogged research. Epic in its span, rich in its depth, and impressive in its sourcing this series is a goldmine of resources for anyone searching early Missouri settlers – OR,OR ancestors that migrated through Missouri to settle further west.
Her biography tells us that she is a sociologist by education and profession. She was a sociology professor at a university in Southwest Missouri. So she approaches her genealogy research from the angle not of a genealogist but as a researcher of families and communities and their behaviors in aggregate. Her goal in commencing this research was to determine if family origins could be determined by researching the subject’s friends, associates, and neighbors – a genealogy process that is taken as a given truism now.
She went to the Springfield, Missouri Land Office and identified the first 1,000 – one thousand! – families, who purchased land in the Ozarks. She explains that in order to get 1,000 unique families she examined more than 1,300 land purchases. Then starting from simply the land purchase records – the patents – and a name, she attempted to find the families’ origins. She was able to identify the birth place of 857 of the 1,000 families in her designated sample. Amazing.
She summarizes her findings with a table of origins: 220 were from Tennessee, 173 from North Carolina, 164 from Virginia, 132 from Kentucky and so on. She continues with conclusions about the average age at the time of land purchase (younger than New Englanders), age at marriage (younger than New Englanders), slavery, financial worth, and number of children (more than New Englanders).
But what about the genealogy?
While you and I may find the above interesting, we are not sociologists and our interest is genealogy. Hoffman Rising has built exceptionally rich profiles – she declares they are not genealogies as they don’t meet the purest of standards – of the 857 families she researched. I’ll take her “profiles” any day. By way of example, let me show you what she’s done.
John Biggs was born about 1803 in Tennessee; m. Nancy (-?-) born about 1800 in Tennessee.
Land: NE1/4 of NE1/4 section 6 township 28 range 22 containing 41.28 acres. This tract is southwest of Springfield on wilson Creek. John Biggs applied for the E1/2 of the SW 1/4 of S6-T28-R22 under the Preemption Act of 1838 on 30 November of the same year. Adam Biggs and John Rober(t)son attested that John had a wife and family, as well as the required cabin and improvements. He received certificate (patent) #746, but for an unknown reason, it was cancelled and his money refunded.
Origin: Lincoln County, Tennessee
(Research) John’s connection to Lincoln County was established from his associations with Adam Biggs and John Robertson, both of Green County Missouri, and earlier of Lincoln. There is little doubt that John Biggs left Tennessee because of economic circumstances.
Hoffman Rising continues for a full two pages describing 1) the records she found and where she found them, 2) the connections she made between records and facts, 3) her logic, assumptions, and questions about the information she found, 4) where she didn’t find the subject and what that may or may not mean, all of which leads to 5) a stunning profile of her research methodology and a profile of the subject. On this particular subject she includes the next generation with information on where they may have settled and/or led the rest of their lives.
If you’re looking for research on the first families of SW Missouri, you couldn’t do better that these works.
But don’t discount this series if your ancestors didn’t live or migrate through SW Missouri. The series can still be very, very helpful if you want to understand how she does the research and leverages friends, associates and neighbors to find birth origins – a tool and technique we can all benefit from.