Why does my Ancestor Appear Out of Nowhere?

Question: It seems as though for my situation my 2nd great grandfather Robert, who was the one born in 1818, just appeared one day.

This is more common than we may think at first.

Do you feel your ancestor appeared out of nowhere

I understand your pain about Robert just appearing.  I have 3 lines where that is also the case around that time to 1830. These ancestors all seem to have appeared out of nowhere and we have been unable to conclusively determine who their parents were.

The problem/reason is that from 1790-1840 all census records only listed the head of household.  Beginning in 1850, census records listed everyone in the household {except slaves}.  This is why before 1850 it is so much more difficult to discover parents and lineages.

For more information you can search:

  • Church records
  • Probate records
  • Land records
  • City directories
  • Newspapers
  • Family papers/records

The problem is often finding these records.  Either no record exist or can be found which can be very frustrating and discovering.

Also, if your ancestor moved from another area this can be very difficult, especially if we have no idea what area he came from.

How have you found ancestors that appeared out of nowhere?

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