Cluster Genealogy – 

Genealogy Research Outside the Box

Cluster genealogy is the practice of expanding your research to persons other
 than the one you are researching. Sometimes, we build our own brick walls in 
our research. If we think outside the box, we can often break down those brick 
walls. Here are a few instances where cluster genealogy may solve a 
genealogical problem.

Orphans Court Records
You are researching John Brown, whose parents died when he was young (under
 the age of eighteen). He had several brothers and sisters according to the will of 
John Brown Sr. The eldest son inherited the family farm, but he was not yet 21 years
 old. Even though John, the son, was an orphan, he would not appear in the records
 of Orphans Court since he did not inherit the property. But his brother would appear
 in those records if he was a minor who inherited property. By researching the
 records of John’s older brother, you may find clues as to what happened to John 
after his parents’ deaths.

Census Records
Family lore says James Morris was born in Delaware and died in Ohio. You found 
the family of James Morris in the 1860 census living in Ohio, and sure enough, his 
birthplace is listed as Delaware. Research in Delaware records shows a James 
Morris who received a portion of his father’s estate in 1823. How can you prove 
(or disprove) that these two men are the same person? The distribution account
 for James Morris’ father in Delaware will show each heir. James had three 
brothers and two sisters, both of whom were married. See if you can find those
 brothers and sisters in the 1850 census. Their birthplaces should be listed as 
Delaware, so that will help narrow down the possibilities if you find more than one
 person with that name. If you find them living in Ohio, it is highly likely that you
 have the correct James Morris. Families tended to migrate together.

Can you think of any other ways cluster genealogy could benefit your research?
When trying to find information about a Father or Mother, try looking into the
marriage records of their children.  Many times there are notations about
the parents of the new couple...hometowns, death dates and places, etc.