Was Their Last Name Fixed?

In some countries and some time periods, last names were not fixed and did not pass directly from father (or mother) to children. Children might be given a last name that was based upon their father’s first name (a practice called patronymics). Heads of household may take a name that is associated with the farm they settle on.

Learn about how last names were created, used, and passed on in the area where your relative lived. It may cut down on some confusion.


Is It a Town or a County?

Locations can create all kinds of problems for genealogists. For this reason it is necessary to be as precise as possible. Some locations are logical.

For example, Knoxville, Illinois, is in Knox County, Illinois.

But this is not always the case.

Des Moines, Iowa, is in Polk County, not in Des Moines County, Iowa.

Keokuk, Iowa, is not located in Keokuk County, Iowa.

And remember there are townships as well which may or may not add to the confusion. Hancock County, Illinois, has a Webster Cemetery and a village of Webster. Webster cemetery is not located near the village of Webster.

Provide as much detail as possible when listing locations in your genealogical database. Personally I always use the word “county” in a location. It reduces confusion.

Did Your State Take a Census?

Federal censuses in the United States were taken in years ending in a “0” beginning in 1790. A variety of states have taken states state-censusin non-federal census years. Most of these records have been microfilmed (perhaps online at FamilySearch for free or Ancestry.com for subscribers) or are available at state archives or libraries.

Not all United States states took a state census.

Your Christmas Wish List

What’s on your genealogical Christmas wish list?christmas

My membership to American Ancestors is one of my annual Christmas presents. There’s a few books on my list, but that’s about it. There’s a few ancestors I’d like to find, but that’s hard to put on a list for someone actually get and wrap.

If you’d like to help support Genealogy Tip of the Day, use these links before ordering products from any of the following vendors:

Feel free to put your genealogy wish list items in the comments.