Monthly Archives: May 2010

We don’t have any relatives

Don’t assume those stories about having “no relatives” are true. One family insisted our branch was the only one to come out west from Ohio. Turns out there were three first cousins and two aunts and two uncles who also came to the same area from Ohio.

Why descendants insisted we were the “only ones” is beyond me, but they were incorrect.

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Temporary Landing Spot

Did your immigrant family have a temporary landing spot when they immigrated? Even if they lived in one state for thirty or forty years after their immigration doesn’t mean that was where they originally settled.

I had one family where many extended family members immigrated over fifteen years. Almost all of them spent a few years in Kentucky before settling permanently in Illinois. I just assumed all their United States records were in Illinois, which was incorrect.

Who Paid the Taxes?

If you are looking for when an ancestor died in an era before good death records, consider looking at property tax records if the ancestor owned property.

If the ancestor suddenly is listed as “deceased” or “the estate of,” that could be a big clue as to when he died. The estate may be paying taxes for several years before the property actually changes hands.

Are You Using only Records that have Everyname Indexes?

Keep in mind that there are a variety of records that might mention your ancestor and that are not everyname indexed. Court records, estate records, and other records usually are not FULL name indexed, unless they have been abstracted and published.

It may be necessary to get away from indexed records in order to solve your problem. The difficulty is that unindexed records take longer to search.

Make A Chart

Some information lends itself to making charts–some doesn’t. Regardless there may be some way to organize information in table format. Doing so may help you to notice trends that have someone passed you by or catch omissions in your research. Either is a good thing.

We use a fair amount of charts in Casefile Clues–because it helps organize information for readers and is good for the researcher as well.

Same Old Sources?

If you are stuck on an ancestor, are you using the “same old sources” you always use? Are there records you avoid because you don’t understand, they are “difficult” to access, etc? Some individuals avoid land records, court records, and other records for these reasons. Are there un-utilized sources that might have the answer to your problem?

Alternate Surnames

If the last name is MacDonald, look for Donald. If the last name is DeMoss, look for Moss. If the last name starts with an “O,” drop it. Try looking for Wall instead of Van de Wall.

And on the reverse side, if the last name is Neill, you might want to try O’ Neill or McNeill. Just in case.