Are You Searching All Court Records?

In some jurisdictions there may have been multiple courts that heard different types of cases. The obvious court that is often separate is the probate court–the one the oversaw the settlement of estates. There may have been a court that heard criminal cases and yet another court that heard other types of cases.

Make certain you’ve gone through them all. A divorce probably won’t be heard or settled in a probate court or a criminal court. Separate courts may have used the same facilities and had the same judge.

But the records may be separate from each other with separate indexes and finding aids.


How Closely Do You Look At the Neighbors?

If your relatives are in a “new” area, your search for relatives in the area should include more than just neighbors with the same last name. Look at the first names, look at the places of birth for these neighbors. Does a neighboring family have children with many of the same first names as your ancestral family (hopefully ones that are not common)? Does that neighboring family have places of birth that suggest they could be related to yours or at least followed a similar migration path to the area where they are now living?

That’s a good way to find nearby families that are related to a family in a way other than through the father.

Sometimes it’s not the last name that’s the clue.



Greeting Cards Clues?

Years ago, I went through the cards my parents received when they married. Most of the names I recognized as relatives of one of my parents. Many of the others had last names that I knew had to be neighbors. There were several I didn’t recognize and I asked Mom who they were from. Most of those were from college friends of my Mom or teaching colleagues early in her career.

Then there was one.

No idea who she was. But I made a note of the name.

It was years later that I found out who she was–a first cousin once removed of my paternal grandmother. I had no idea she was still living in 1968.

Too bad Mom didn’t save the envelopes, but we can’t have everything (grin!).



Criminal Associates

Genealogists are often familiar with the importance of working on not just immediate ancestors, but neighbors, slightly-more-distant relatives, and associates. Information on these individuals can sometimes give either direct or indirect insight into the ancestors in question.

And if your ancestor was involved in any sort of criminal activity, do you know who his (or her) partners-in-crime were? Those associates can be clues as well.

For a longer post, read “Partners in Crime.”


My Blogs, Newsletters, Etc.

To reduce confusion, here’s a list of my newsletters, blogs, etc

  • Genealogy Tip of the Day(one tip every day)—free to get daily–subscribe on the blog
  • Genealogy Search Tip of the Day (but not always every day)-  (genealogy search sites and online search tips)—free to get daily–subscribe on the blog
  • Rootdig -(research stories, frustrations, and whatever interests me–a genealogical potpourri without the annoying smell)–free to get daily–subscribe on the blog
  • Casefile Clues Blog(updates on my how-to newsletter)–blog is free to get
  • Michael’s Weekly Blog Update –(weekly summary from all my blogs)–$5 a year–weekly
  • Casefile Clues-PDF Newsletter-(usually weekly how-to newsletter on document analysis, methodology, and more–grow your research skills–it’s easy to understand, cited, )-$20 for 52 issues.

Consider subscribing to the Michael’s Weekly Blog Update or to Casefile Clues. We try and keep the prices affordable and easy on the budget. There’s not a better genealogical education budget than Casefile Clues. It’s easy-to-read, straight-forward, and not full of overly pretentious academic prose written to appeal to an editor or reviewer.



Devise, Devisee, and Devisor

The three Ds of the day are:

  • devise–gift of real property, usually by the last will and testament of the giver
  • devisee–the person receiving real property, usually by a last will and testament
  • devisor–the person giving real property, usually by a last will and testament

Devise is the gift of real property given to the devisee by the devisor.


Casefile Clues is Back

After a hiatus, Casefile Clues is back!

We’ve put out four issues since resuming publication. Casefile Clues focuses on being readable, understandable, and practical. Articles exhibit sound research methods and analysis–but are not tedious or difficult to follow. Sample issues can be downloaded on our website.

Learn more about Casefile Clues

If you’ve not been getting your issues and you are a subscriber, email me at

And if you’re not a subscriber, consider subscribing today!

Casefile Clues content is separate from our blog content.


Story Writing Reminder

No matter what item you have from your past, write down the item’s story.

Before you forget.

Items don’t have to be family Bibles, letters, fancy jewelry, or similar items. They can be milk cans, hay hooks, irons, skillets, or even plants. But their story should be recorded. The writing of the story may even generate additional memories or questions.

This tiger lily’s predecessor was owned by my great-grandmother at least as early as the 1940s and likely sooner. Its history briefly:

  • at home of Mimka and Tjode (Goldenstein) Habben west of Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois–at least in the 1940s and 1950s
  • home of John and Dorothy (Habben) Ufkes, north of Ferris, Hancock County, Illinois–probably from the 1940s through 1960
  • home of John and Dorothy (Habben) Ufkes, east of Basco, Hancock County, Illinois–1960 through 1987
  • home of John and Dorothy (Habben) Ufkes, Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, 1987-early 2000s.
  • my home

Thinking about where everyone lived and when got me to thinking about things not really related to the plant. Documenting the “existence” of an item may raise more genealogical questions that you originally thought.


Counting Separately

cattleWhen I was a kid, my dad and I would count the cattle as they crossed the road from one pasture to another. It was important to arrive at the same correct number. The only problem was that my father tended to count out loud and his counting always got me off.

Is part of the reason for your research difficulty that you are listening  to what someone else has already concluded? Are you letting their interpretations influence yours–perhaps a little too much? Sometimes it’s helpful to put away the conclusions of others and start your analysis from scratch.

Then, when you’re done counting your cows separately, you can compare your conclusions with others.