I am far from an expert writer, but I guess this means if I can write a family story anyone can.
First of all you will want to make a timeline of all your facts and sources, I like to use Note Pad because I can transcribe or copy/paste into it easily. Next you will want a word processor, preferably one with a grammar checker, and thesaurus. I also use a free text reader so I can hear how it will sound.
I previously did an article, “What Is In A Census”, now I hope to show you what is possible when you add all you have found. Again I am going to use Thomas Chapman of Rocheport Missouri, built from censuses, newspapers, ship manifest, county histories, cemetery & vital records.
Thomas Chapman was born 9 Jan 1824 in Northallerton, Yorkshire, England and moved to Stockton, England by 1830. He came to Boone County Missouri about 1841, possibly departing Liverpool, England on the ship “Ebro” and arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana on 2 Jan 1840.
My first account of Thomas Chapman in Boone County was on the 1850 census where he lived with Henderson Wheeler, the local blacksmith, where Thomas was working as a wagon maker. Thomas continued working as a wagon maker for most of the rest of his life. In 1860 he had real estate in Rocheport worth $200 and a personal estate of $200, and 1870 his real estate was worth $400 and a personal estate of $300. Not a rich man compared to his neighbors. He did become a respected citizen of Rocheport where he or his son Thomas became the Mayor of this community.
In the Daily Democrat 16 Dec 1872 it was reported, “he had seen the first and last rrilroad engine--the first in 1830 or 1831, at Stockton, England and the last at the depot at Columbia, that day. Mr. Chapman is a native of Stockton, and when quite a boy saw the first train of carrying coal from the coal pits in Derham county to Stockton on the Tees. The road was first constructed for horse cars; but at the time named a rude steam engine was made and attached to a coal train of 18 or 20 coal wagons, the train traveling at the rate of only about two miles an hour.”
Thomas married Sarah Hulett 22 Feb 1854 in Boone County Missouri. She was born 14 Apr 1838 in Rocheport Missouri, the daughter of Edward Hulett. They had 11 children: Thomas (20 Nov 1854-25 Oct 1935), James Buchanan (15 Nov 1856-24 Nov 1942), George William (9 Jul 1858-20 Sep 1952), Mary S. (6 Jun 1860-23 May 1918), Sarah (31 Aug 1862-25 Jan 1940), Elisa (27 Aug 1864-22 Sep 1875), Emily Hulett (2 Nov 1864-13 Feb 1901), Mildred Victor "Millie" (15 Nov 1868-8 Aug 1938), Guy (23 Jan 1871-29 Mar 1906), Niel (born 18 Jan 1873-), and Annie Wilton (about Jan 1877-29 Mar 1953).
Thomas died 13 Mar 1894 in Rocheport Missouri of pneumonia. He left a wife and nine children. Funeral services were conducted Wednesday morning at 11 o'clock by Rev. J. H. Wood.