If you think there should be an estate for an ancestor, make certain to look for a deed even if court records are not located. In some cases, if there was just the widow’s inheritance to settle up after her death the only record might be a quitclaim deed where the heirs transfer property to one of their siblings. There might not have been any need for an estate settlement.
Keep in mind that in the cases of intestate estates, a court might not be concerned about relatives who die young, never marry, and do not leave any issue.
If John dies without children and had six siblings, the court might only list those four who left heirs of their own.
The court is concerned with determining heirship–not with compiling a complete genealogy.
Does that research project seem too large? Maybe it is. Pick a smaller task or research goal to start on and go from there.
When was the last time you took a hard look at some conclusions and research you did in the early days of your family history adventure?
Any chance you made a mistake?
If you need a map of baselines and meridians within the United States, there’s a good one here: http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/Visitors/PrincipleMeridiansAndBaselines.html
and if you don’t know what base lines and meridians are for, take a look at the Bureau of Land Management website. Baselines and meridians are used to describe ruralproperty in those states where land was initially transferrred to private ownership by the federal government insetad of the individual colonies.
Those of you who only have urban ancestors or east coast ancestors might not need these links….
When interviewing that relative, keep in mind that there just might be some things they either do not know, never knew, or just cannot remember. It happens to all of us occasionally.
Sometimes it is easier to just say “don’t know” when asked for a name or a piece of information. And sometimes it’s the truth.
I record every name exactly as it was written on the document. Sometimes though I struggle with what name to “use” for an ancestor when they had more than one name.
I try and use what they used for the majority of their life. My great-grandmother I have listed as Fannie Rampley. Her name on her birth certificate was Frances. But from her marriage on, every record lists her as Fannie. She signs “Fannie Neill” or “Fannie I. Neill” (Iona was her middle name) on legal documents. She (or likely her children) had Fannie put on her tombstone. I transcribe the records using whatever name they say.
But I have her listed as Fannie in my database as it really appears that’s what she preferred.
Need some perspective on your ancestor? Try reading a local and national newspaper on the day he was born, died, married, etc. While not every national or world event impacted your ancestor, reading the newspaper might bring some additional thoughts to your research.
And that’s never a bad thing.
Don’t assume no one has ever published part of your family history. A little searching located a genealogy published in 1987 on the family of my great-grandfather’s sister’s husband. It contained pictures and a great deal of information I did not have.
Search out the in-laws!
Use compilations of others as clues, not as proven facts to be copied down with nary a thought. Make certain you reduce the chance you perpetuate the mistakes of others by trying to validate their conclusions and information.