No birth or death date.I was amazed at how often just entering a guess for the birth date will help. Start with a date the same year as the spouse's birth. Very often the hints on Ancestry just pop up.
So these entries for the reading of wills very often name the spouse as beneficiary (so you can be sure you have the right person with the myriad Tapplys and Tapleys) and give the place of residence. By entering this place in Dora North's file, I found her death entry and I used the same method for Minnie.
I've been going through the tree trying this methods with people on both sides of the Atlantic, and I've at least got either a birth or death date for the older parts of the tree. Amazing how entering a date and possible location unlocks those doors.
The next problem I tackled was this:
I've been round and round on this portion of the Smith family. Marion L. Smith had four children. Two were named Dietche and two were named Otto. I felt sure that there had been two marriages, but I couldn't find any record anywhere for the two children or for her. And her second husband was Otto Dietche. Was this a record mistake? I didn't think so. Her marriage record and the census name her as a widow. So I went back to the son and tried again on Family Search.
And lo and behold this showed up:
There it is. Allan G Otto in Fitchburg, Massachusetts who seemed to have died just after the birth of the two children. So plugging THAT into the tree for father and Robert Allan Otto for the son, the hints just fell into place. I found a directory entry for Allan and Marian living in Fitchburg just a year before his death. I also found exact birth, marriage and death dates for the children and neatly tied up another loose end.
It doesn't work every time. Older records are difficult. Families with many people of the same name are almost impossible. But using FindaGrave, Family Search and Ancestry I've made good progress. I found a few duplicates, loose ends, branches that needed pruning altogether and satisfied my own urge to tidy up the tree. It may only be January, but it's time to try a little spring cleaning.