Generally, I don't spend an inordinate amount of time sussing out one branch fully. And by fully, I mean all the siblings of my ancestor, their offspring, and their offspring's offspring. I have done so with my Towle branch mostly because I found this particular family so oddly compelling for a number of reasons. One of them being that no one seemed to know how my Towle branch fit with the the greater descendants of Philip Towle of New Hampshire branches. The other was stumbling into a distant cousin online. I didn't have proof at the time but I just knew that his great-grandfather was my grandmother Rose's sibling. I'm no genealogical genius here. If you find a man with your great (x3) grandfather's name inverted, living a stone's throw from your great (x2) grandmother, and he's of the same approximate age, common sense naturally leads a person to believe that he's quite likely your grandmother's sibling. I just had to back up my hunch with documented proof - which took a while but I eventually did by way of a marriage license. That's one branch mended onto the tree. But what about the Towle tree?
This is what my amputated (and abbreviated) Towle branch looked like in a nutshell:
Laurie Pratt (b 1964)
--Fred Pratt (b.1934)
---Fred Pratt (b. 1903)
----Walter Pratt (b. 1878)
------Rose Ann Towle (b. 1857)
--------Elbridge Gerry Towle (b. 1829)
----------Ludovicus Towle (b. 1795)
No one had much on Ludovicus Towle. There's a Ludovicus Towle of New Hampshire that fought in the war of 1812. He had signed up in Exeter and has got to be my Ludovicus if only by virtue of the bizarre name. I found him misspelled on the 1840 census living in Kingston with his second wife, Judith and my grandfather, Elbridge. I found a land deed from Ludovicus Towle's probate granting Elbridge his homestead land in Kingston. And thanks to some Towle family experts willing to share information, I knew that Ludovicus Towle married a cousin of some degree, Mary Towle. Ludovicus and Mary Towle were the parents of my great (x3) grandfather, Elbridge.
But who is Ludovicus Towles' father? No one seemed to know. With a crazy name like Ludovicus, you'd think someone, somewhere, would have remembered him in a family history book. Nope. 404 - Not Found. Given the fact he's spending time in Exeter, living in Danville (Hawke) and Kingston, it's a pretty sure bet that he's of the Philip Towle, Towles of New Hampshire. But I, and no one else had any source material to back it up.
Until last night.
On a whim, I decided to take spin on the new pilot program on records over on Family Search. I had used Family Search when it first came out but I found the records listed generally pedestrian and sorely lacking in documentation beyond the 1880 US Census. Who cares if someone made a tree and included my grandparent in it? That's not documentation a person can hang a hat on. Wheres the hard proof? Where's the record? Where's the source?
With the new search engine tied to actual vital records, I was bowled over. In roughly 15 minuets the mystery of Ludovicus was solved. Something I haven't been able to do in a half-dozen years.
Ludovicus Towle is the son of Rueben Towle and Abigail (Brown). Here is my (and my Pratt-Birdsall-Towle cousins) line to Caleb Towle through Ludovicus:
...and Caleb was the son of Caleb, who was the son of Philip Towle and Isabella Austin.
My grandfather Elbridge's parents were first cousins which seems a little creepy looking at it through 21st century eyes. Though on the bright side, it saved Ludovicus and Mary the the dreaded, "Whose side of the family do we spend Christmas with this year?" decisions, I suppose.
If you haven't checked out the new pilot record search program on Family Search, it is definitely worth a look these days. http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html#p=home
As a footnote to my Towle cousins in the know, it also confirmed my hunch that Rose and Gerry's sister Hannah J Towle maried Eilas P Dole.
I found a Towle/Dole cousin whose wife has a tree on Ancestry listing "Hannah J Tower" as the wife of Elias P Dole. I sent her a message months ago but she hasn't responded. Her husband, my actual cousin, has a Facebook page. Hmmmm..maybe I should try to contact him directly. Everyone should have a chance to know their family history, don'tcha think?