To get the group going, I will list an example of research from my own family. My John R. Moody was born in North Carolina in 1806. The first record found of him was his marriage in 1827 in Wilson County, TN. He was in the 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870 census for Wilson County and died there in 1875. For 20+ years, I had not found his NC origin. He was the only Moody family in Wilson County, TN. A study of his neighbors found that many of them were from NC, but they were from numerous counties, and no basis was found for giving priority to research one county over the another. What I wanted was one specific county in NC on which to focus research.
John R. Moody was a blacksmith, as were at least two of his sons, and a grandson. I decided that if John had learned the occupation from his father, then he may have also had brothers that were blacksmiths. I looked through the microfilm of all the Moody families that were listed in 1850 NC and TN census indexes (this was before the Internet). In 1850 Henry County, Tennessee was an I[saac] N[ewton] Moody, age 45, who was born in NC and was a blacksmith. Living close to him was an Elijah Moody, age 37, a farmer and also born in NC.
The NC Marriage Bond index listed that Isaac N. Moody had married in 1827 in Guilford Co., NC, and the bondsman was Thomas L. Moody. With a specific county to research, the pieces began to fall in place.
1. A published Bible record for Elijah W. Moody of Henry County listed that his mother was named Thankful, and her death date.
2. Thomas L. Moody was married in 1802 in Guilford County to Thankful McCuition. The marriage record of Thomas to Thankful, combined with Thomas being the bondsman for Isaac, and the Bible record stating that Elijah's mother was named Thankful, suggested that Thomas and Thankful were the parents of Isaac N. and Elijah W.
3. Thomas L. Moody (born about 1778) was a blacksmith, as shown by court records at both his own apprenticeship in 1794 in Guilford County, North Carolina and when later, persons were apprenticed to him.
4. Extant tax records showed that John R. Moody was gone from Wilson County, Tennessee for a few years between the time of the 1830 and 1840 census in which he appeared. A John R. Moody showed up for a couple years in the same tax district as Isaac Newton Moody and Elijah W. Moody in Henry County, Tennessee (about 120 miles west of Wilson County).
5. John R. Moody had a son also named Elijah W. Moody. From this Elijah's TN Confederate pension application, he was born in 1836 in Henry County.
Thomas L. Moody himself moved to Shelby Co., TN where he remarried in 1830. There are numerous other records that have since been located for these men that I won't go into here that strengthen the evidence that John R. Moody, blacksmith of Wilson County, Tennessee, was the son of Thomas L. Moody, blacksmith of Guilford Co., North Carolina.
This brick wall was broken by using the occupations given in census records to direct the research to the correct family and localities.