Can brothers and sisters of your ancestor help you knock down those brick walls? Absolutely! We all have those brick walls where our direct ancestor has very little to tell in terms of leaving documents behind. They do not have a birth or death certificate, they left no will. We can only find them in the census or maybe only in one or two censuses. Maybe the timing of their birth is such that they only hit the 1900 census and they are married at this point. How do we go back further in our tree? Maybe siblings can help.
First, you have to find the siblings. Most of us go to the census first. Even if they are not listed in the family look around. They might be with their own family but living very near to your ancestor. It might even be a page or more before or after your ancestor. You might find siblings in court records and probates as well. They might have sued each other. Check the inventory of estates to see who is in charge or receiving items. Who are the witnesses in marriages? These could be siblings of your ancestors.
Once you have the sibling names you can begin to research them just as you have been researching your direct ancestor. Don’t get distracted by adding children and grandchildren at this point, it will only take you off track of the mission. Take a look at the sibling’s death certificates. They might mention the parents birth locations and maiden name of the mother. Check and see where they are buried as a possible burial site for your ancestor. See if they have a will, who is mentioned, look at every page even the inventory. You never know where a name will pop up. Not only might you find information on parents but also proof that these are indeed siblings.
Other places to look are birth certificates, delayed birth certificates, funeral records, newspapers, guardianship papers, deeds, and other court records. You can always search for their children and grandchildren and make connections to see if these new cousins have any documents that might help in your research. Reach out and connect to your new family and you might just find a fellow family historian who can use your help as well.