I remember finding a cousin who was researching the Mosley surname and who matched my line. She had done quite a bit of research on the line and had a copy of one ancestor's Revolutionary War pension file. As luck would have it, we were able to meet shortly after we connected online, and she brought me two spiral-bound books. One was a copy of the Revolutionary War records; the other was her research on the family. For a relative newby, this was a wonderful acquisition. However, it showed me how wonderful records beyond the census were in research.
The Harris line proved to be a difficult one to research. While I can build a case that meets the genealogical proof standard (and have found no contradictory evidence), I don't have the type of evidence I would truly love to have for Walton Harris' father. However, as a newbie, I didn't have the type of focus that I would have liked to have had, and in reviewing my records on this family in the last few days, I've seen all kinds of gaps that were left in my research because of my inexperience. I'm beginning to work on some of those gaps (while trying to keep most of my focus on preparation for my upcoming New England research trip). I've met cousins of this line online. In fact, I blogged about one such connection here. Another cousin I've met on this line has proven to be a good research friend with whom I correspond regularly about local history.
After I was meeting such a dead end on the Harris line, I decided to try my hand at the Taylor line. I've blogged previously about my initial interest in this line. I had very little information to go on with this line, and I had somehow overlooked something in my process. I got back to Laura's father being Stephen Taylor, but I had no idea where to go from there. I received an email from a Taylor researcher in Pittsburgh who immediately recognized my family but he was brickwalled not far beyond where I was. He gave me enough clues that I was able to take my family back to the point he was brickwalled, but he didn't really share his research with me. I've lost touch with this gentleman over the years. (We all know about email addresses that fail.)
I was able to take my research back to the point where he was brickwalled. I know he believed that the family would eventually have New Hampshire roots. I've wondered if he or another cousin to whom he introduced me has tried to move past that brickwall through DNA testing in the last few years. This other cousin was able to provide me with all sorts of photographs and letters he'd scanned. Another cousin I met on this line had one of my great aunt's photographs and sent them to me, making copies for himself.
These are just some of my earliest connections. I'm far less dependent on connections than I once was, but when you find someone with whom you can corroborate to resolve a problem, then you've made a wonderful discovery.
This post is submitted for the 40th Carnival of Genealogy which will be hosted as Creative Gene.