Monthly Archives: December 2011

One Expert is Just One Expert

If you ask another genealogist for their advice, remember that they are one person and they can make a mistake. However, if four independent experienced researchers tell you the same thing about a record or a source, it might be time to admit they are correct–even if they disagree with you.

2 Free Copies of Casefile Clues

You can get two free samples of my genealogy subscription newsletter Casefile Clues, by “ordering” them here. Click “checkout.” You will NOT be asked for anything other than your email for the download link. The two copies are free. You can put your real name or call yourself Bugs Bunny if you’re more comfortable with that. The download is free, does not require a PayPal account, or a credit card.

There is more about Casefile Clues at http://www.casefileclues.com

Scan the Whole Thing First

I first worked on my children’s Belgian ancestors years ago. When using the vital records from the 19th century, I used them the way I had other European records from the same time span. I looked in the “book” for and read through the entries for the years I thought included the person’s birth date. Then, if I had the correct person and had the names of the parents, I scanned the years before and after the birth to locate siblings.

Imagine my surprise when I found indexes interspersed in the records. I had never encountered those before. While indexes are not perfect, they would have saved me a great deal of time. 
Moral-the first time you use any “new” record, familiarize yourself with the whole thing first, don’t assume that it is like every other one you have ever used. 

Service Versus Benefit Records

Records related to an ancestor’s involvement in the military may take the form of service records or benefit records. Service records were those records created during the person’s actual service and relate to their service, when they were mustered in, their physical description, when they were mustered out, where they were assigned, and other information from records created during their service.

Benefit records are records typically created after service related to benefits that were given to or were dur to the serviceperson as the result of their service. Those records, in the United States at least, are typically pension records and sometimes records of bounty lands that were awarded to the serviceman.

Did It All Burn and Is It All Gone?

Don’t take “the courthouse burned” to mean that every record before that point in time was destroyed.

It might be that in reality, records from some offices survived, some offices’ records were not completely destroyed, etc. In some cases, records might have been “re-recorded” after the fire. There may also be state or federal records that provide similar information. Ask around.

Facebook Bans Me From Posting for a Few Days

For the next few days, I have been banned from posting to Facebook. I tried to enter in the “security capture” code and it kept telling me I was wrong. I guess I messed it up too many times–even though those things are occasionally impossible to read. Feel free to complain to Facebook about the Security Capture code.

The Date of the Census

Every census has an official census “date.” This is the date, as of which, all questions are to be answered. The problem is that sometimes the census is not taken on that date and people confuse the “real” date with the “census” date. And some genealogists forget that the date the census information was gathered, which is sometimes listed on the page, is not necessarily the census date.