Is There More?

Online indexes can lead you to an image of a record with a quick search–if you are lucky enough that names are spelled and indexed correctly. Make certain the “next image” isn’t part of the item you located. Census records may be split over two pages, draft cards are often images of the front and back of the card, death certificates sometimes contain “supplements” directly after the original document.

Always look at the next image or two in any online set of images to make certain you’ve got it all–and look forward too as well.

You’ll never know until you look.

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When the Name Depends on the Gender or When it Does Not

I don’t really have a new variant spelling of Trautvetter in this entry for Anna Catharina Trautvetter that appears in the records of Wohlmuthausen, Thuringen, Germany, in 1823. There’s not a “new name” of Trautvetterin.

The “in” is an ending attached to the name because Anna Catharina was female. Her last name is Trautvetter. Issues of this type are why it is important to learn about the culture and linguistic practices for the area where your family lived. What’s true in one area may not be true in another. Don’t assume an entire country is the same. My Germans who lived in other areas did not include any gender derived endings to surnames–ever.

But certain parts did. And other parts didn’t.

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Were They Even Married?

Most genealogists should know how people reproduce. But sometimes we forget that people don’t have to be married for that to happen. In some time periods and in some locations, having children outside of marriage was more common than a person might think. Two siblings of my great-great-grandfather in Thuringen, Germany, had several children before they were married (1830-1840 era). They were apparently in a long-term relationship with the fathers of their children as baptismal records for the children indicate that both sisters had their children with the same father.

Not the exact same father (one needs to be careful how one phrases things). One sister had her children with Mr. B and the other sister had her children with Mr. S. The sisters eventually married their respective fathers of their children.

Why does this matter? One reason is that sometimes the children used their mother’s surname as their last name and sometimes they used their father’s surname as their last name. That was confusing to me until I learned the marital history of their parents.


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Was There Another Marriage?

My great-grandfather’s brother and his wife are buried together and have a joint tombstone in a rural Illinois cemetery. They were in their late seventies or early eighties when they died. I easily located his death certificate and other information on him, using the death date on his tombstone as a starting point.

I had some difficulty with the wife who had survived him.

The difficulty stopped when I located a newspaper reference their son where it referred to his “mother” with a different last name. She had married after her husband’s death. The tombstone does not mention this and it was not one of those things Grandma told me before she passed.

The marriage took place in the 1940s–just where I’m not certain. It easily could have been out of state in a location I had never thought to look.

Lessons and reminders:

  • Never assume someone doesn’t have “one more marriage.”
  • Don’t ignore any newspaper reference–even ones to seemingly innocuous social events.
  • Tombstones don’t tell you everything.
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When Searching Court Case Indexes…

This court case was not located until I searched the digital images of newspapers. It is only indexed in the plaintiffs’ index under Luella Barnett and in the defendants’ index under Velva Ray Schupp. Neither name was one I had searched for. When searching indexes of court records, it is important to search for extended family members as well as those individuals in whom the researcher has a direct interest. This is especially important in locating court records over estates in general and particularly when those cases may involve individuals who are only tangentially related by marriage.

The case apparently was to settle up some issues with the estates of Jeanette and William Miller of Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, in the 1930s. This couple had no children of their own, but Jeanette (who died first) was survived by nieces and nephews and William was survived by his second wife, Ida, who died before she could settle up his estate.

The item was located by searching the online newspapers for one of the other names that happened to be a defendant. I had no idea that there had been a court action over these estates.

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Every Social Reference

After one of my great-grandfather’s brothers died in the 1950s, it seemed like his wife just disappeared.

Until I went through every newspaper reference in the local weekly newspapers for their children. There was a reference to one a son (by then an adult) who was in the hospital and had been visited by his mother–with her name listed as Mrs. Newhusbandfirstname Newhusbandlastname. Sometimes it can be frustrating to find women listed this way. In this case it was not as I now had the first and last name of her second husband.

All because I went through every social reference to the children.

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Go to the Start of the Next

Documents in handwritten ledgers can be of varying length. Always make certain that you have gotten a copy or images of the entire document in which you have an interest. When copying make certain that you went until at least the start of the next document. Don’t stop when you get to the signature (or transcription of the signature).

Acknowledgements and certifications often appear at the end of the document and some times these can be easy to overlook. These items may contain geographic clues help pinpoint the chronology of the document and its recording.

A deed from Indiana contained the names of all the children and children-in-law of a deceased relative. The acknowledgements of the deed (after the transcription of the signatures) had the counties where they were living at the time they signed the document. That was a clue as to where they were living when the document was signed and acknowledged.

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Lessons from a 4H Picture

Stuck in one of the sticky photo albums of my great aunt was a picture of my brother and I wish a 4H cow and calf. There are several lessons about this picture and the image of it that has been used in this post.

Don’t crop too much.
  • Don’t crop too much. This example is a little bit extreme, but the humans have been cropped from the photograph to illustrate the point. There may be times where something in the edge of the picture helps to identify where it was taken, when it was taken, the event going on at the time, etc. In this case, there is a high school in the background that helps to locate the photograph.
  • Dates written on photographs may not be entirely correct. My great-aunt has written “12-1979” on this photograph. It was not taken in December of 1979. It was taken in July. The likely reason for the December date: the photograph was included in my parents’ Christmas cards the winter after it was taken. My aunt apparently wrote the date she received the picture on it.
  • Transcribe any information exactly as written. While I know the “12-1979” date is incorrect, I will transcribe it that way and use sic after it to indicate that it was what was originally written on the photograph. I’ll make a note about my belief as to why the date was written as it was.
  • Preserve as you can any photographs in those “sticky albums.” This image was created from a photograph made of the picture before any attempt was made to remove it.
  • Don’t be surprised at who keeps pictures. This photograph was one of many my great-aunt had of her fifteen nieces and nephews in a series of albums. While I knew she had probably received photographs over the years, I did not expect her to have them organized, roughly chronologically, into albums.

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Who Came With Them?

If your relative was a mover from point A to point B, have you looked to see if there were any individuals who also moved from point A to point B? That person could have moved before your relative, at the same time as your relative, or after your relative. That person may have been related to your ancestor by biology, by marriage, or geographic proximity.

Sometimes it can be difficult to see who these other movers were. Some ways to look for them include:

  • Looking in county histories to see if there are biographees born in the same town/village or county as your ancestor.
  • Searching online images of newspapers for obituaries of people who list a place of birth that’s the same as your ancestor (search for “born” and “same county as ancestor” within close proximity to each other to try and find these obituaries).
  • If your relative got a military pension, see who provides testimony and how long they’ve known your ancestor.
  • Who interacted with your ancestor in the first few years your relative was in a new area?
  • Does your ancestor have neighbors from the same state that he or she is from?
  • Etc.

Figuring out some of those people may help you on your ancestor.

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Different Papers Mean Different Versions

A relative from New Mexico served with Teddy Roosevelt in his “rough riders.” In 1907 the relative was living in Indiana and met then-President Roosevelt while he was visiting Indianapolis for Memorial Day.

The relative’s hometown newspaper indicated that he spent an hour with President Roosevelt, remembering their service time together. No such reference to the meeting could be found in newspapers in Indianapolis and Roosevelt’s schedule seemed packed with activities with little time for a lengthy informal chat with my relative.

What’s more likely to have happened is that the relative went to an appearance Roosevelt had in Indianapolis.

What’s important for genealogists to remember is that different newspapers may often give different accounts of the same incident.

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