If you have found someone in the newly released 1940 census, have you looked at the very far left hand side of the page? Some enumerators made notes about their enumerees there–some of which can be good clues for further research. One enumerator in Warsaw, Illinois, made notes about which homes were owned by an estate that had not yet been settled.
Scanning down the name column to find your person is good, but after you have found them, look at the entire page.
In some cultures and time periods, if a child died the parents might use that same name for the next child of the same gender. I have one 18th century German couple who named three children Reenste. After the first Reenste died, the next daughter was given the same name. After the second Reenste died, the next daughter was named Reenste. Fortunately the third Reenste lived to adulthood.
Did your family use the same name more than once?
Never assume that a county or a city will only have one place, cemetery, etc. with the same name. I learned that lesson the hard way years ago. The county where most of my family lived since 1850 had two Webster Cemeteries–located in different parts of the county. Who would have thought Webster was that common of a name. Always doublecheck that you have the right cemetery, street, church, school, etc.
Researchers in urban areas are used to problems of “the names the same,” but rural researchers need to keep it in mind as well.
There’s a blog post here on the Webster Cemetery for those who are interested.
After the excitement of locating a document wanes, look at all the information it contains. Consider the reliability of the person providing the information and then compare and contrast it to information you already have? Are there consistencies? Are there inconsistencies? What new records or sources are suggested? Always compare what you have just located to what you already know, keeping in mind that any document can be totally accurate, totally inaccurate, or somewhere in between.
There are actually many things you should do before hiring a professional researcher to take on your problem. However, to keep the tip short, we’ll say for today that you should 1) organize what you already have; 2) write down what it is you really want to know; and 3) admit that not every problem will have a solution. That’s a good start.
Remember that vital events are to be recorded in the place where the event took place, which may not be where the persons were actually living at the time. People die in hospitals in counties or states where they did not live and occasionally cross state lines to get married.
Deeds need to be recorded where the property was located. Estates need to be probated in the county or jurisdiction where the bulk of the property is located.
If your ancestor changed his name in the United States before 1900, chances are it was unofficial and done “without paperwork.” Proof of the name change may be indicated on a deed or in an estate settlement where the individual is referenced by a former and the current name.
In some situations there may be no direct document linking the two individuals. Some name changes were done in a court of record, but many were not.
My children’s ancestor was born William Frame in Chicago in 1888. For reasons that are currently unknown, he took the name William Apgar by the time he married. There’s a chance he was adopted, but even if he was in that era the adoption likely would not have left any records either.
I just finished the final installment in my Brick Walls from A to Z webinars. Twenty-six new genealogy stumbling block breakers in alphabetical order. This session is geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers and is not geared towards any specific geographic location. The Brick Wall series has been fun, but I’m looking forward to creating new material.
And besides, I’m running out of things I can use for “X.”
The recording and handout can be ordered for $8.50.
A bondsman on an executor’s or administrator’s bond is guaranteeing that if the executor or administrator of the estate runs off with the estate’s property without paying the bills of the estate that the court can come after the individuals who signed the executor’s or administrator’s bond. So generally speaking, if someone signed the bond your ancestor posted as an estate administrator, that bondsman trusted your ancestor enough to know that he wouldn’t run off leaving unpaid bills of the estate.
And the judge knew that the bondsmen were “worth enough” to cover the value of the estate if the administrator defrauded the estate.