Thursday, March 3, 2011

Research Plan for Thomas Vanzandt

Research Problem

I want to learn who the parents of my maternal 3rd great grandfather Thomas Vanzandt were. I also want to determine his date of death.

Known Information

He was born ca 1846-1848 in Indiana per census records. The 1900 census gives his birth as Jan 1848.

He married Ellen Sturgill ca 1882 per census records.

Per census records, his parents were born in Indiana.

He had 6 known children, William Walter Vanzandt (my 2nd great grandfather), Amanda Agnes Vanzandt, Robert Lee Vanzandt, Thomas Homer Vanzandt, Myrtle Vanzandt and Joseph H Vanzandt.

He is living with his daughter Agnes and son-in-law Charles N Abney during the 1910 census. At first, I wasn't sure this was him because he is listed as widowed and I know that Ellen Strugill remarried in 1906 to Frank Knipe. However, since all the other information fits and he is listed as father-in-law to Charles, I'm inclined to believe this is the right person.

Suspected Information

The last record I have of him is the 1910 census. By the 1920 census, he has disappeared and can't be found living alone or with any of his children. I suspect he passed away between 1910 and 1920.

An unsourced family tree on Ancestry gives his parents as Thomas B Vanzant and Eliza Jane Greathouse. The tree also gives a date of death 2 Feb 1911 and burial place of Locust Hill Cemetery in Evansville, IN.

The death date fits my suspected range. Several of Thomas's children lived in Evansville around the suspected time of his death so the location fits. I checked Find-A-Grave and the City of Evansville Locust Hill Cemetery database, but wasn't able to find him.

There is a Thomas Vanzant listed in the Indiana Deaths database on Ancestry. The death date matches the family tree, but the age is off by 6-8 years from what I calculated from the 1900 and 1910 censuses.

The 1860 and 1870 censuses for Posey County, Indiana have a Thomas Vanzandt. Birth is given as ca 1854 in Indiana. The date is a little off from my calculated birth date, but it fits with the death record. It's also closer to the event than my 2 census records so potentially could be more accurate.

Both records have James Vanzant Sr, born ca 1795 in Pennsylvania as head of household. He seems a bit old to be Thomas' father and his birthplace doesn't fit what later censuses say about Thomas's parents.


Call Locust Hill to see if Thomas is interred, but not listed in their database for some reason.

See if there is an obituary available. I checked the Browning Obituary Database, which contains the obituaries of residents of Evansville and the surrounding areas, but didn't find Thomas. The database information says that it is complete from the early 1900s, but it's possible it just doesn't go back far enough or his obituary was missed for some reason.

Consider ordering a death certificate. It appears I can order one for $8.

Research possible family members from 1860 and 1870 census to prove/disprove their relationship to Thomas.

Contact my grandmother, the great granddaughter of Thomas, to see if she knows any information. While he passed before she was born, it's possible she heard something about him from other family members.


  1. Is the last name Vanzant or Vanzandt? I have just recently started back up on my genealogy and every time i see these names it's spelled "Vanzant"? Also I would love to hear with what you came up with.

  2. I've saw it either way, including with and without spaces after the first three letters. Thomas' son William Walter went by Vanzandt as do more recent generations so I used it.