I have developed my own timeline that I find very useful in looking at pre-1850 individuals, where little information can be found. One individual is shown in the sample timeline below. Key features of this are the following:

  1. First line shows location, where found. Each time there is a change in location, it was noted in this line.
  2. Second line shows estimated birth range in green. Birth year(s) was either noted from a census or estimated from the first event identified, given the assumption that a person would have to have been 21 years old to be noted. That would have been his latest possible date born. The earliest possible date he could have been born was obtained by assuming he was 70 years old when that event occurred. Of course that gives a range of 49 years, but at least its a range, if nothing else is known. If participation in events was found in any given year, that year would be filled in with dark blue. The light blue between dark blue indicates the individual was likely in the same location as last noted in line 1.
  3. Third line shows estimate when the individual was likely married in orange and when he likely had children in yellow. Orange and yellow mix shows that either could have happened. If not known, marriage year was estimated at year or years the individual could have turned 21.  The years the individual could or did have children was determined either from information in census or if no census, then generally 25 years beyond the date of marriage as an estimate. It is recognized that for some individuals this range was large, but again a large range was better that no range.
  4. Where the years are indicated in “turquoise”, the spreadsheet columns have been hidden to increase readability.
  5. Ref is the reference designator I have assigned to identify various individuals as there were 30+ Johns, each one needed it own ID. In the case shown J123 is actually a combination of J1 + J2+ J3, where each one was located in a different state or county at a different time.
  6. State and county summarize where this person was found.


As an example of how I used these, see below:


By looking at the timelines of these two men named John Stagner, it is easy to see that the birth range of J5 falls within the child rearing range of J123, so it becomes clear that these are not the same person and that they could easily have been father and son. It’s not proof, but is highly suggestive because of the location as both were in found in Warren County, KY.

A side note, for J5, there is a 4th line that indicates when his children were born, which would have been based on 1850 or beyond censuses. If data is before 1850, only the number of males and females born in a given range is indicated.

Some of the timelines may be difficult to read, but the detail will most likely not be as important as the trend of the colors. I will do my best to distinguish.


%d bloggers like this: