Try That for Starters…

A relative’s name first name is Christian. Sometimes he’s listed in records as Chris–which makes perfect sense. Other times he is clearly listed as Christopher, although that’s not his name. Is it possible your ancestor whose name is John occasionally gets listed as Jonathan? Did Michael become Micah in some record?

Stay open to the possibility that some clerk, official, or enumerator took the first few letters of your relative’s actual name and used another name starting with those same few letters.

That’s how Geske becomes Gertrude and that’s how we can easily overlook potential references to our ancestors.

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Avoid Pronouns and Relationships

When writing an identification on a photograph or “what you remember about the ‘old days,'” avoid using pronouns (he, she, them) and relationship words (Grandma, Uncle, Aunt, etc.). Someone years later will not know which Grandma Neill to whom you are referring and sprinkling “he” and “she” too frequently in your writing may confuse.

Use specific names to avoid making someone years later wonder to whom you were referring.

Cite What You Used–Not Where You Think They Got It

Get After Your Sources!

When entering information into your genealogical database, always cite exactly what you used–not where that reference got the information. We cite what we saw–not what someone else say.

If an index says that Thomas Smith married Joan Brown in 1820 in Bourbon County, Kentucky, then we cite that index for that marriage. It does not matter that the index claims that the county records were used–if we did not see them, then we do not indicate that we did. If all I used was the index–then I cite is the index.


That way someone later (particularly ME) knows that I only used the index–and not the original. The original may indicate the actual date is in 1828 or in 1830. I should later try and locate the original. Then if I’ve used the original and it does say 1820–I can cite the original.

Only cite exactly what you used. Not what you wished you had.

Learn more about citation in:

Enhancing the Transcription with Brackets

Clerks love to abbreviate, but don’t create more confusion when transcribing. Put in brackets what you “add” to complete the transcription or to make it more clear. Sometimes it clarifies things to “add,” but it should be obvious to the reader of your transcription what was in the original document and what came from your understanding of any abbreviations.

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Marriage Bonds

The value on a marriage bond usually only becomes a problem if there ends up being a legal reason the bride or the groom cannot marry. It is not a fee to marry. The bondsmen are acknowledging that there’s no legal impediment to the marriage and, if there is, they are liable for the amount of the bond. Usually one bondsmen is vouching for the groom (often the groom himself, but not always) and one is vouching for the bride. In the US marriage bonds are usually local county records.

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

Your relative answered a question for the census, death certificate, etc. Before you think they were simply dreaming up an answer, consider the other possibilities:

  • did they understand the question?
  • did they speak the language?
  • were they even really listening?
  • were they hard of hearing?
  • were they lying?
  • had someone else lied to them?

There are many reasons why a piece of information may be wrong. Be open to other possibilities besides your first conclusion.


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Terms: Grantor vs. Grantee

In land deeds, the grantor is usually the person that has title in the real property and is transferring it to the grantee. A deed can have more than one grantor and more than one grantee.

The grantor on a deed can be a judge if legal action is involved (perhaps a partition case or a divorce) or the sheriff if a tax sale is involved.

Just make certain you are looking in the correct index.

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GedMatch.Com Webinar 2 (on Tier 1 Functionalities) Released Webinar 2

Tier 1 Options on GedMatch

This presentation will focus on an overview of the Tier 1 search options of GedMatch. Tier 1 is the “fee-based” part of GedMatch–it costs $10 a month and helps support the free portions of the site. GedMatch allows you to “see more” of your DNA and analyze it in ways that simply are not possible on AncestryDNA and some of the other sites.

We will look at the:

  • One-to-many matches
  • Matching segment search
  • Relationship Tree Projection
  • Lazarus
  • Triangulation

Our focus will be on interpreting the results and using them for continuing your genealogical research. A basic understanding of DNA is required. You do not need to be a “Tier 1” member of GedMatch to participate. Our approach is practical, easy-to-understand, and engaging.

The grid shows the “matching segment search.”

Purchase this session for immediate downloadIf you registered for live attendance or pre-ordered, please contact me (using the email address in your receipt) for the download link–do not re-order.