One Office Many Courts

In some counties, the court records office may hold records of several different courts. Make certain you have accessed the records of each court you need. There may be an equity court, a criminal court, a probate court, and others depending upon the location and the time period. Find out what court had jurisdiction over the type of case for which you are looking–don’t assume you know, particularly if it is an area with which you are not familiar.

Did They Reuse That Name?

In some places during some time periods, it was common to “re-use” names of children who were deceased. You may find a family with three children named James. If this is the case, most likely the first two died young, before the next James was actually born. If you do find a couple with two children of the same name where the same-named children survived to adulthood, make certain the children actually had the same name and that the names just were not similar or ones that Anglicized to the same name.

Exhaust Sources Where they Settled

Before you track someone across the pond, make certain they (and their children) have been researched exhaustively in the area where they settled and died. Clues as to previous areas of residence or origin may be directly stated or indirectly stated in a variety of records, not just the death record or obituary. Associates may be listed in probate records, christening records of children, etc.

What Did They Have to Do to Be Able to Do That?

If your ancestor signs a deed, find out how old he had to be to execute that document. If an ancestor is on a tax list, does it mean he owned real property, was above a certain age, perhaps even under a certain age.  Some records seem to tell very little. If that appears to be the case, find out as much as you can about why the document was created, who was “eligible” to be on the document, if the order of the names has any significance, etc.

There may be clues you are not seeing!

Is There a Form They Actually Filled Out Themselves?

Some records we use were not filled out by our ancestors–someone else, perhaps with less knowledge answered the questions. My big break on my wife’s grandmother came not from her death certificate, which was filled out by her children, but instead her SS-5 form. The grandmother filled out that form herself in the 1960s and gave a different name for her father than what her children had put on her death certificate thirty years later.

If possible, find something the person actually provided information on. It may be different!

Stuck People Should Read

If you get stuck on an ancestor, read a county or local history of the area. It probably won’t mention your ancestor, but reading and learning something about the history of the place your ancestor lived in will at least make you more knowledgeable about the location. And it just may spark a research idea.

And if you’ve read the county history–read a local newspaper for a week if it’s a daily and a for a month if it’s a weekly. Reading the newspaper will provide a background the county history probably won’t.


The word “coparcener” generally speaking, means joint heirs. Siblings, whose father dies without a will, may be referred to as “coparceners” of his real estate, meaning that they own it jointly. They each have a share, just not a specific part of the real estate. To have their part clearly marked typically requires court action, or at least complete agreement among the heirs.