I know it's not really mine, or even my family's, but my favorite treasure right now is an amazing library on the other side of my keyboard. I love, love, love Google Books. It's such a gold mine for genealogy. Knowing that they are constantly adding new material, I try to search 3 or 4 times a year for information on my toughest projects. This time I found gold.
I have been researching the family of Edward Turner (d. 1805, Fauquier County, Virginia) for more than 20 years. His daughter Sarah married Joseph Conway in 1788 shortly before they moved to Tennessee. I've learned a lot about Edward, but I still don't know who his parents were or where he was born. Virginia and Maryland are littered with Turners and at least three Edwards were in Fauquier at the same time. I believe he is linked to a Northumberland County Turner family but haven't found absolute proof. Ironically, I knew more about his daughters because they had the good sense to marry men with somewhat unique names before he died and his estate settlement papers referred to both their husbands and the locations where they were living.
Dreams of DNA testing filled my head but I couldn't tell if any of the Turner men already tested were descended from my Edward. I needed to learn more about the sons. They've proven elusive. Estate records name John, William, James, Edward, Lewis, Sarah, Mary and Ann. A possible fourth daughter, Elizabeth, died in Kentucky about the same time as Edward. The records showed that William was in the Natchez Territory, Sarah in Tennessee and Mary in Kentucky. The inference was the others were in Virginia, but there was very little trace of them there. Hints of other family migration to Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi have proven impossible to confirm.
Until I headed to Google books and searched for "edward turner fauquier". There, in Alexander K. Marshall's Decisions of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky (Cincinnati: Henry W. Derby, 1848) was a case, John Turner et al., Executors, v John Debell, Executor, that proved that Edward's son James and an unnamed brother/executor had moved to Fleming County, KY where James had died. The other brother had remained in Virginia. John & Lewis were named executors in the law suit so one of them ended up in Kentucky and the other in Virginia. Even better is the fact that a known descendant of James Turner has been tested and his DNA matches the Northumberland County Turners. My own legal thriller - complete with forensics! The book, by the way, was digitized this past January.
I kept looking and found a nugget on son Edward in a biography of his previously unknown (to me) son W.H. Turner of Campbell County, KY in a late 19th c. book, Kentucky: a history of the State.... by William Henry Perrin (F.A. Battey, 1887). He, too, had left Virginia for Fleming County before moving to Campbell County late in his life.
So now I know where four of Edward's sons went from Fauquier County. James and Edward went to Kentucky along with their sister Mary. Lewis appears in the 1820 Fleming County Census so he's presumably the one named in the appeal living in Kentucky. John stayed in Virginia (though I still find little evidence of him). Only William, who headed south along the Natchez Trace remains unaccounted for. Not the mother lode, but enough to keep me digging.