Monday, August 15, 2011

Going down one path will always lead to another...

So I've been very happy with the New York State Archives in my research on the Ricklefs brothers, although this last time I associated with them there was such a long lull between my request for information and them getting back to me that I thought my email got lost! But even though this isn't really genealogy work per se, I feel like the research skills I'm using - whether it's thinking of any and all possible agency or institution to contact who might have the info I'm looking for, or not being afraid to ask questions or ask for help, or reading the documents I receive as closely as possible to catch any tiny clue that I might be able to use on the next leg of my research journey - are all skills we should all be using in our genealogy research, and this is good practice for me and a chance to hone them!

Anyway, I got a ton more information on John Ricklefs' early criminal career, just fascinating stuff, but also info and clues to help point me in another direction for finding out even more info to fill in the blanks and round out the picture. I knew, in addition to spending time in the New York House of Refuge, Elmira Reformatory, and Sing Sing, he had also spent time in Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate Dannemora; in New Jersey State Prison, from which he escaped; a Connecticut prison, from which he escaped; and prison in Massachusetts. These new documents the NY State Archives sent me included various case histories on John, which told me WHY he was sent to prison in NJ and CT (burglary, of course), the dates of his arrests and incarcerations; the prison names; his prisoner number; all useful information I can now use to take this path onto the next one. Now that the New York State Archives have been so helpful and proven so fruitful, it's time to see where these other states keep their historical prison records, and find out how I can get my hands on them.

It's all about connecting the dots...the journey doesn't end. When one path ends, another usually begins. Don't be afraid to take it!

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