Why Did They Wait?

The widow dies and three daughters inherit 12 acres in the 1850s. One daughter apparently pre-deceased her mother. The two surviving daughters sign deeds over to their brother at about the same time-probably shortly after the mother’s death. The deceased daughter’s heirs wait a few years to sign their deed. Why? I’m not certain, but my guess is that they waited for all the deceased daughter’s children to come of age so that they could legally sign the deed. Minors can’t execute deeds.

Sections, Quartersections, and Congressional Townships

In most areas of the United States, a section is 640 acres, a quartersection is 160 acres, and a Congressional Township is 6 miles on a side. There are exceptions–especially in Ohio. If you are doing research in a state that uses sections and townships and your ancestors were property owners you should either know or find out.

Making A Mark Doesn’t Mean They Were Illiterate

Remember that just because your ancestor signs their “mark” on a document it doesn’t mean they were illiterate. In some cases, a person might have been told to “make their mark” which was unique to them, and as long as it was witnessed, legally binding.

Remember also that if your ancestor was ill and on their death bed when they signed their will, making their mark might have been all they could do.

I have several ancestors who signed numerous documents, but made their “mark” on their will, generally because they were advanced in years.

Join Me In Salt Lake in May

As a short reminder, I’m leading a group research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake this May. Going  with a group can be a great way to have your first (or second) library research experience. There’s more details on our trip on my website at:  http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2010/06/reserve-spot-in-my-2011-family-history.html


Take A Moment To Stop Gathering

For those times when locating information seems easy, stop and take time to analyze what you have already located. This is particularly good advice if you’re searching on a collateral family in hopes of learning more about the direct line. 

Get off the websites, get off the internet, email, stop gathering more information, etc. and look at what you have. Sketch out relationships, make chronologies, make timelines, etc. 
You may see errors you didn’t see before or opportunities you have overlooked. Either way, you’re better off! Sometimes it pays to stop collecting for a while and do some analyzing. 

Clues in the First Names of Neighbors

Here the clue is pretty obvious. The first household has a father-in-law named Henry J. Fecht and the adjacent house has someone with the exact name aged 18.Seems highly coincidental. Look at the first names of members of adjacent households, not just the last names. Are there clues in those names? In this case, it turns out the older Henry J. Fecht is the grandfather of the younger one.