The Five-story Fall: Correlating Indirect and Direct Evidence to Extend the Pedigree

Debra S. Mieszala, CG
Mar 19, 2019
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1m 11s
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Learn about BCG
5m 57s
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 25s
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4m 07s
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2m 09s
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New York
8m 04s
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Expanding the Pool
7m 29s
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3m 41s
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5m 20s
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Research Questions
5m 01s
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Four Families
6m 46s
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Hypothesis and Evidence
20m 15s
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Questions / answers
14m 51s

About this webinar

Johanna (Daly) Mahoney plunged to her death taking her parents’ and siblings’ identities along. Extensive associate analysis and a sixteen-year post-mortem summons led to family.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Debbie Mieszala, Certified Genealogist(R),specializes in forensic genealogy, and 20th-century and Midwest research. She conducts genealogical research for the military to locate relatives of service members missing in past wars, and formerly condu
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  1. Legacy Family Tree
    5 years ago

    A real-life, step-by-step example of using indirect evidence to reach sound hypotheses. Great seminar!

    A truely interestingwebinar. I took awy a lot of information about how to back track to find proof of relationships

    Absolutely superb in content and presentation. I can’t wait to watch it again.

    Always interesting. Thanks

    Amazing! Very well done!

    Awesome presentation.

    Awesome research and presentation! It expressed well the joy of family history research and gave me considerable food for thought for my own research.

    Beautifully laid out research,inspirational ,in fact! She is very well-spoken,easy to listen to. Good visuals too


    Debbie’s explanation of how she found the answers to her questions was very clear and followed a logical pattern. This webinar is to be watched again and again as there is so much detail to absorb.

    Debbie’s presentation was fantastic! Her identification of answerable questions to be found and her search methods will help so much where one has met a brick wall. Also her doing a surname spreadsheet for same names and doing family trees for each and identifying duplicity in family names would definitely help clarification. Color coding, too. This was a very informative, educational and enjoyable webinar thank you all.

    Easy to follow. Easy to listen to. Gives me hope that my genealogy puzzles can be solved with determination and putting many small pieces together to get the big picture. Thank you.

    Enjoyed the whole thing. I like to see that I am doing the same as everyone else; i.e. investigating after the last record. I said in question 3 I was not interested in pursuing certification. This is because my gratification comes from the chase using whatever the proper titles of records might be, I just cite them. And then the result of my chase turns into a historical paper or presentation to a genealogical society or whatever group might want me!

    Enjoyed twists and turns. Great use of a Sanborn map. Only have seen them a reference, not analyzed as in presentation.n Thanks.

    Excellent discussion of an involved research process.

    Excellent examples of Indirect Evidence

    Excellent illustration of correlation to prove a research question.

    Excellent presentation

    Excellent presentation! Such fun as clues to the mystery unraveled . . .

    Excellent presentation, both in content and style. It was especially interesting for me because I am doing similar research on my husband’s family. This gave me new avenues of research to pursue.

    Excellent presentation.

    Excellent presentation. So thorough. Easy to understand and follow. Would listen to her again 🙂

    Excellent presentation….

    Excellent webinar

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    5 years ago

    Excellent webinar, and a particularly good example of using the FAN club method. Really interesting story made better by the in-depth pursuit of every angle to uncover the full story, not only of the family but also of the trigger event. Presented clearly and methodically. Just the best really.

    Excellent work and clear presentation. Admirable. If I weren’t too old to pursue certification I’d model my work on hers.



    Excellent, great sleuthing!

    Excellent. Confirms I am proceeding upon the correct pathways!!!!!

    Excellent. Comfortable speaking voice. Well-paced and structured. Exciting story.

    Exquisite presentation! I’ve gained deeper understanding of how to piece together evidence to form sound conclusions.

    Extensive work done. Professional presentation.Thanks

    Extremely good. show the need for exhaustive research and use of indirect evidence. GREAT!

    Fantastic info about the process of organizing a research project. I so needed this! Thank you.

    Fantastic presentation about different types of records, and the methodology of answering research questions.


    Fascinating research!


    First – very interesting, well done. My only problem was that at times, some of the clues from the evidence weren’t as evident to me; I think I’m just a little slower than the average participant because I’m a novice.

    Following a case study is very engaging. Learning and enjoying! Debbie is really a good story-teller and obviously a very successful researcher who “walks her talk!”

    Gives one hope. Irish Research is difficult and I have some issues in that area. Just need patience and presistance.

    Good storyteller.

    Great case study and artfully carried out.

    Great example of the FAN principle

    Great example of the topic presented (i.e., correlating direct and indirect evidence)! I also loved that the researcher/presenter included a non-standard research question and how she used evidence to create a possible answer to that question as well. Of course, this also was a good reminder to question the content and source of any evidence you find. Well done! Well done.

    Great example.

    Great presentation – thoroughly enjoyed it – gave me some ideas re my own research.

    Great presentation, although occasionally the lists of names of others found in church records left me a bit lost at the speed we were going.

    Great presentation. I have some similar situations where I need to compile indirect and direct evidence to answer my question and this helped.

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    5 years ago

    Great speaker and presentation. Very thorough and kept my interest from start to finish! Well put definitions and examples of direct and indirect evidence.

    Great story. Great presenter.

    Great way to show that we need to be detectives.

    Great webinar and clearly set forth

    Great webinar!



    Helpful reminders, especially returning to initial records and sources to test hypotheses formed later in the search process, How I wish my ancestors lived in locations with Sanborn maps!

    I enjoyed this webinar so much. It was one of the best examples of using the FAN club for research problems that I have ever seen. The topic came at the perfect time for me as I am working on a similar research project to determine the parents of my Irish 3rd great grandfather who was born in New York City!

    I found her explanation of how records beyond the life of the individual can also be helpful in answering questions. I’ve never pursued them for a subject, only using information if I happened to glean it while working on a different person. Now I know better. Thanks.

    I loved following the thought process of the search….and added benefit was it confirmed that my research method is very similar to this….so I’m approaching it in the right way! …and all the family names and Irish locations made me wonder if I would connect another cousin…it was close, but not quite… exciting all the same. 😉

    I loved it. Thanks for the presentation.

    I really appreciated how the presenter led us through the entire process and demonstrated how all of the evidence fit together.

    I really enjoy the example. My first attempt at researching an Irish immigrant family came from nearby in County Cork — truly a challenge to get a handle on which person (of the same name) that you are looking for!

    I very much enjoyed it and learned a lot, especially concerning due diligence. It’s always great to pick up a new resource such as the Sanborn maps, which I have used in the past but never knew that they existed in other states.

    I look forward to future webinars. Thank you!

    I’m glad none of my research to this point has required that much effort! It was amazing how she found and then analyzed data.

    I’m going to go back and look more closely at those witnesses on documents (baptisms, weddings, deeds, wills, etc) and use them to help develop or support my hypotheses! Great tip!

    Interesting case study. Fascinating about the Sanborn maps and fire insurance maps. Great presenter.

    Interesting. It affirmed that I probably should pursue certification. I just researched the sponsors on my maternal grandmother’s (one of several women with a past who don’t want to be found in my tree) adult baptism prior to her first marriage. It was a shotgun wedding because she was pregnant. The sponsors for both baptism and marriage were family and work related. Thanks for the presentation. I enjoyed it.

    Intriguing; like a detective story.

    It increases my confidence that I am following the right path in conducting research. My answer to Survey Question 3 – I sent my portfolio and now waiting for the decision.

    It was great learning about the process.

    It was very interesting. I am going to revisit one of my ancestors whose parents I have not been able to find and see if I can find additional indirect evidence.

    learned so much about research and applying the FAN methodology.thank you.

  4. Legacy Family Tree
    5 years ago

    Liked all the detail she went in to. Gave me more ideas to solve some of my Irish folks parentage.

    Lots of good ideas for furthering the scope of records to search when dealing with a research question.

    Lots of great info to extend my line. I have one brick wall and this might just help tear down that wall.

    Loved the case study format to visualize the correlation of indirect evidence!

    Loved the thorough work nailing down all the loose ends

    One of the best case studies ever presented!

    Outstanding presentation on linking associates and family naming to derive associations

    Really enjoyable and informative speaker. She made the steps very clear, even for those of us who have done this process before.

    Really, Really, love indirect evidence case studies, especially when they are so well presented.

    She gave me hope for my own search issues.

    Shows me I’ve got a lot to master in carrying out detailed research. A most valuable learning experience!

    So glad this was about New York City Irish. They are especially hard to research, and half of my family.

    Some of the techniques Debra used are applicable to my own “brick wall” and encourages me to keep trying.

    Terrific! I learned so many ideas about how to research some of my brick walls.

    thank you

    Thank you for an excellent & interesting presentation! Debra did a great job in solving her brick wall and I’m so envious. After years of research, I can’t seem to locate my German great grandparent’s parents and village/town in Germany.

    That was really interesting and enjoyable, following along on the breaking of what was brick wall, like so many of the ones we all have. I particularly liked her statement that we have to chose a single small piece of the big picture to work on. Focus and discipline are still my biggest problem. I get distracted by a stray thought or find and somehow feel if I don’t chase it now, I’ll never get back to it, and it could the one thing to break the brick wall, which it never is, despite being interesting.

    The logical thought of putting pieces together was very easy to follow and well explained.

    The presentation was excellent and I enjoyed the variety of records used to form the final conclusion!

    This was a joy to see how the family was researched – a work of art!

    This was a really great example of using indirect evidence along with direct evidence. The presentation was very easy to follow; I did not find myself getting lost as I do sometimes reading through case studies in NGS Quarterly!

    This was an excellent webinar. It flowed so well and was so fascinating –

    This was helpful. I now see additional approaches I can take to dealing with my multiple Thomas Bakers.

    this was my first webinar. I totally enjoyed it. while I listened, my mind swirled with ways to pursue my own brick walls. There were so many ways I was reminded that I should not go off on tangents. However, the tangents are not to be discarded. They will come in handy. There is always something new to learn,

    This was one of the most useful genealogy-related webinars I’ve attended – not only did she present the research question clearly, but she went through her entire thinking/research/conclusion process in a very clear to understand format. I got a lot of useful tips out of this webinar. Thank you for making it freely available!

  5. Legacy Family Tree
    5 years ago

    Very clear explanation – thanks!

    Very educational and very well and clearly presented. Valuable information to follow up and research ideas to consider.

    Very enjoyable

    Very good speaker, she was able to weave all her evidence into a family with parents and siblings. She demonstrated the use of indirect evidence in a clear manner.

    Very good, thankyou

    Very helpful in putting a structure to what I’ve been stumbling through over the years!

    Very informative about the methodology, extra helpful for me as amateur genealogist

    Very informative!

    Very informative.

    Very informative. Will watch again.

    Very informative. I think I subconsciously use the same methods, but fail in writing it all down!

    very interesting

    Very interesting and informative presentation.

    Very interesting as it covered numerous world locations

    Very interesting how lots of information was connected.

    Very interesting how she was able to put the families together using the cluster research and then prove the hypothesis.

    Very Interesting Methodology

    very interesting!

    Very interesting. Gave me ideas where to go next.

    very interesting. I can relate a bit on the speculating and then moving on to prove

    Very interesting. I always find it helpful when the speaker uses a case study.

    very systematic method for finding evidence

    Very useful reference for future research.

    Very well presented. Lots of good info, and reminders to keep searching.

    Webinar was well structured and used good illustrations.

    Well done. Easy to follow.

    Well presented and researched.


    Wonderful demonstration of research process and the value of attempting to “unprove” your proof.

    Wonderful example of what you can do with forensic genealogy. Some of the information was a little quick and difficult to follow, but I really loved it.

    Wonderful story and well-told.

    Wonderful suggestions about looking for evidence and forming hypothesis regarding “problems”. It is clear that one needs patience as well as an investigative approach. Very inspiring. Thank you.

    Wow – I never would have thought to go past a death to find more records about someone.

    WOW Debbie’s work was mind blowing. Brilliant. I want to see that again as she had me mesmerized with the story.Please send my thanks to her!

    Wow! Just wow!


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