In genealogy work, we accumulate a lot of records and images. We spend a lot of time energy making sure they're organized and labeled (like I did here) which is only appropriate.
Just as important as organizing our data is actually LOOKING at it closely. More than once. In fact, combing through the documents we've already gathered for things we might have missed is one of the great habits that separates a novice from an experienced researcher.
Why do I say that? Because I just had a very novice moment after looking at this census record.
I have this census record duplicated and labelled twice--once for James Peter Doyle, and once for William Loveless. They were neighbors in Rockingham County, North Carolina because James married William's daughter Cora.
How beautiful right? Two families, one page from a census record. All is right in the world.
Except I missed not one, but TWO pieces of vital information on this page. How unlikely, especially since I should have been twice as likely to discover it.
You will notice that in William's household, there is an older couple. The census doesn't give me a name, but they are W and M Loveless for now, respectively 87 and 70 years old.
Do they look like parents to you? Because they sure look like parents to me!
I can't tell you how long I've had William at "Brick Wall" status--only to discover today that he wasn't a brick wall at all. I just didn't realize I already had the information.
James has a similar situation in which I missed some useful information from not reading carefully enough. His unmarried sister B. Doyle lives with him. While that doesn't seem like much, it's helpful in this case because I haven't had much luck with their family. I have their father's name (Peter), no mother's information, and up until now only James. To even have one sibling's first initial will help me confirm anything that might come my way in the future.
The longer I do genealogy, the more I realize that brick walls are less a reflection of a hard problem or my inexperience, and more reflect my own poor attention to detail and lack of motivation.
Break down those brick walls y'all. The discoveries are waiting--if they haven't already found you!