Twice in the past few days I have come across names in my research that weren't exact matches to information I already had but they come too close for me to dismiss them immediately. Is it wrong to always go with your instincts? It can be but lately, I can't ignore what they are telling me. Over the past couple of weeks I've tried finding ancestors to a collateral line, because researching direct lines hadn't gotten me far, at least for my maternal lines. I actually did pretty good and got one line, the Bodemers, back to 1500. But then I saw something that I'd never come across before. I didn't get the line completely back to 1500. See, I traced the line back to 1785, but then found a line that I traced back to 1522. The problem is there are at least TWO generations MISSING. And now I don't know if the two lines, both Bodemer are even connected to one another or if they are just two lines of the same surname that happened to be from the same part of Germany. I've tried more than once to make a connection, but the later line only goes so far and the person that COULD connect the two doesn't have a date of birth, at least not one I could find.
Then the other day I thought I would try another line, this time a direct one, a 2nd great-grandmother, Dorothea BODE. I know what you're probably thinking, is she linked to the Bodemer line? I doubt it since because she married into the Gentzen line, they were both born in Prussia, which is a different part of what is now Germany.
I did find a person that ALMOST matches the information I had on Dorothea, in fact its close enough to mine because of the fact that her middle names (two, common in German naming traditions) happened to be two names that her daughters have, Louise and Henriette. One of her siblings also shares a name with her son, William (Wilhelm) Frederick (her son has the initial 'F'). I haven't committed that information to my tree just yet but my instincts are telling me that its probably as close as I'm going to get with that name.
Just a little while ago I tried another direct line to see if I could find any information, this time the country is Denmark not Germany. My 2nd great-grandfather, Fred A. Ring (long story), who isn't actually my 2nd great-grandfather but actually my 2nd great-grandmother's SECOND husband who happened to 'adopt' I guess you could say her four sons from her first marriage (I said it was a long story). Anyway, I put his father's name, Hans, into the FamilySearch 'pilot' site search box but didn't find anything. So then I thought I would try Fred's name and I added the initial 'A' because it just might help distinguish him from other 'Freds'. Believe it or not it worked but here's where your genealogical instincts play havoc.
As I scrolled down the first page I came across a Frederik Alexander Gotje Ring who was born 17 Mar 1854, the EXACT same DAY, MONTH, and YEAR of my Fred A. Ring. Not only that but his first child with Julia was named ALEXANDER. I know, it could just be a BIG coincidence that all that matches the information I have but in all honesty, even if I didn't use my instincts during my research I would still lean heavily toward Frederik and my Fred A. being one in the same person.
Having these research ups and downs are what make doing the research that much more fun, even if it can get frustrating at times. I wouldn't have it any other way, because each name, date or place I find, is one more piece to the never-ending puzzle in my family history. Genealogical instincts should never be ignored, but should also be taken with caution, especially if you don't have any information to compare with what you find on a website. More importantly, have FUN when doing research, because if you don't there's no point in trying to go back just one more generation to actually find an ancestor across the pond.