Those Dots Matter

It’s not a stray mark. It is an intentional dot and it is not the only one on the page.

As of this writing, in Ancestry.com‘s interpretation of 6th name on this image is “Fred” sans dot. Before I looked at the actual record, I thought it odd that the pastor used the Anglicized diminutive Fred for my great-grandfather while using the low-German name of Trientje for my great-grandmother.

The pastor didn’t use Fred as the name for my great-grandfather. It was an abbreviation. Looking at other names on the same page made it clear that abbreviating names was a common practice in the baptismal register.

I have transcribed it as “Fred.”–with the period–in my records. Numerous other sources indicate that his actual name was Frederick/Frederich.

The reminders:

  • Look at the original record.
  • Look at other entries in the same

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  • and compare.
  • Transcribe as written.
  • Dots matter.

106 Years Ago Today

My maternal grandfather was born 106 years ago today. I never called him anything other than Granddad, but that name is obviously not listed for him on any actual record.

His baptismal record indicated his name was Johann Heinrich Frederick Ufkes and that he was born on 27 January 1917 to Fred.[sic] and Trientje (Janssen) Ufkes. His birth certificate gives his name as John Henry Ufkes and indicates the same date of birth.

The only other item showing two middle names is his tombstone which only includes them as initials. Seemingly ironic that the two records providing both names (or references to them) are ones created at the beginning and ending of his life.

Which name should I call Granddad by in my software and other records? I use John Henry as that’s what he used during his entire lifetime (other than going by John H. to distinguish himself from a cousin with the same first name). Other than occasionally being referred to as Johnnie by some who had known him his entire life, I never heard him referred to as anything other than John.

I transcribe the baptismal entry the way it is written. I transcribe the tombstone the way it is written. I make a notation regarding his name in my software and indicate “first hand knowledge” of the name he chose to go by and why.

Records will not always be consistent. People may choose to use names other than the ones they were given at birth. Transcribe things as written and explain differences when you know reasons.

Preserve the Memory

It is not possible to preserve every piece of paper we have. Sometimes it not even possible to preserve or pass on every piece of paper we have from our parents or grandparents. The piles and files may be overwhelming and those that come after us may have no interest in documenting every receipt that Grandpa kept during his life time.

Consider scanning the paper items and letting the originals go in some cases. Do you need to keep every physical check your Grandfather wrote? Do you need ever receipt Grandma kept for craft supplies or having the television repaired? It might not even be worth your time to scan or digitize these items.

Or it might be.

That’s really your decision. But consider whether those who come after you will want all the originals. That’s not to say that everything should be thrown out. I have the cancelled checks my grandfather wrote to pay the hospital bill when my father was born and when my grandmother fell through the attic and hit her hip on the bureau in the bedroom (the memo says: “Ida-hip.”). But I can’t keep them all. Digitizing them all perhaps and annotating them where I can is one thing, but physically keeping each piece of paper may not be practical.

Prioritize. Sometimes when we try and save everything, we end up saving nothing.

Another Look

I’ve seen the picture numerous times. The print is blurry and faded and the image I made from the negative using my scanner is blurry as well, but the colors are better than in the print.

I never really looked closely at what I was holding. I was more concerned about trying to figure out who the woman on the right is (spoiler alert: I still am not certain). But upon closer inspection, I realized that I am holding my Dad’s brownie camera with the big flash.

Don’t forget to take one more look at a record, an image, or a file to see if there is something you have failed to notice. Sometimes we get so focused on one aspect of something that we miss other clues. In this case, my holding of the camera is not a huge deal. Other times those overlooked clues make all the difference in the world.

What Other Records?

The genealogist should always think about what other records could be generated by a process or set of records they have located. A probate case generates its own set of items, but there also may be:

  • Newspaper legal notices of the impending probate.
  • Newspaper mentions of various court actions to settle the estate.
  • Newspaper advertisements for an estate auction.
  • Land deeds to settle title to real estate.
  • Guardianship records for minor heirs (which may be filed separately from the probate records).

Always ask yourself: what additional records or references could this set of records generate?

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No One Has It All

Remember–no site has every record, every file, and every index.

Don’t do all your research via one website, one repository, or one library.

You wouldn’t just use the census only for your research would you?
Expand your research horizons and your family tree–use a resource or a facility today that you’ve not used in a while. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Fee-based websites may tell you they have everything–they don’t. Even some non-profit websites may suggest they have everything–they don’t.

And remember when you are done with the websites…look offline. Everything is not on the internet.

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Clues in a Summons?

No photo description available.

If accessing a court case is a part of your genealogical research, make certain you have accessed any records of summons or “appearance in court” requests that were issued. These items, typically addressed to a local sheriff, may help indicate when and where someone was living in a specific location.

In the case of the illustration, the summons indicated that several of the defendants were not living in the state of Virginia in early 1830 when the summons was issued.

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Death in a Short Term Location?

I’ve been searching a database of deaths in Illinois in the mid-20th century. While searching this database, I have to constantly remind myself of where people in “my county” were likely to die if they did not die in “my county.” The two most likely places were nearby hospitals and state institutions. In my case, most out of county hospital deaths took place in one of three nearby cities. Those cities were located in different counties.

A significant number of deaths took place in a state institution eighty miles a way which was located in a county that was not adjacent to the county of interest.

In addition to institutions it is always possible that your relative died in the hospital, nursing home, or institution that was near a close relative and quite a distance away from the “home location.”

Search NewsBank’s GenealogyBank for your ancestors.

The Importance of Location

Places change over time. While I am not necessarily an advocate of saving every landscape picture a genealogist has, there are times where saving the picture preserves an image of buildings and other improvements that may not be around in fifty or one hundred years.

Picture facing south taken across the road from where I grew up.
My archival image includes road address, GPS coordinates, approximately when picture was taken and which direction I was facing.

But when images of places are preserved, record information about precisely where the item was taken–at least with as much detail as you have. Include at least:

  • date of photo–or approximation
  • address of location at time photograph was taken if known and if there was even an address
  • GPS coordinates if known
  • direction facing when photograph was taken

Also include how that information was obtained, who provided it, and when.

This image is one I discovered while using my new slide and negative  scanner to scan my parents’ photographic negatives. I’m scanning all the negatives, but not necessarily saving every image of every negative. This is one image I am saving as I don’t have any other pictures of this location from this perspective.

Do not assume buildings will always be standing, roads will always be gravel, telephone lines will be above ground, etc. Things change.

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Could Tax Lists Answer Your Question?

Local tax lists, both of personal and real property, could provide some information to assist in your genealogical search. Local tax records in the United States are most often county or town records, although there are exceptions. Many tax records, particularly those in the United States before the Civil War have been microfilmed and eventually digitized.

Tax records are generally organized geographically, but there can be variation from one location to another and from one time period to another. It is important to understand who was subject to taxes during the time period and what property was taxed during that time period.

One advantage to tax records is that they are available in non-census years and fewer people tend to be overlooked. The disadvantage is that they only list people who were subject to taxation. Some of them have been indexed and some of them have not.

Your search for local tax records should include: the FamilySearch catalog for the areas where your ancestor lived, the appropriate state archives or historical library, and the local county courthouse.

Thanks to reader ds whose email reminded me that it had been a while since these records had been mentioned.