Monthly Archives: April 2012

Are You Looking At the Far Left in 1940?

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.

Repeating Names

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?

Methodology Webinars on Sale

Due to popular demand (and because our Google followers never got the notice), we’re offering again our discount price ($5 each–save 40%–regularly $8.50) on our most popular genealogy methods lectures through 11:59 Sunday 22 April 2012


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Creating Research Plans. This presentation discusses how to create your research plans, how to set goals, how to not set goals, when you are proving and when you are not, and other key concepts. Of course, we have a few charts as well. Our attempt is to be down-to-earth and practical. I realize that most genealogists are not going to write journal articles, however our research needs to be as thorough as possible and our analysis and method well-thought out or we’re not going to get the best possible story on great-great-grandma that there is. This presentation is geared towards intermediate researchers, but advanced beginners might get some benefit from it as well.

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The Genealogical Proof Standard for the Non-Professional. One of our most popular webinars, this presentation provides an overview of the “Genealogical Proof Standard,” including a discussion on the “exhaustive search.” The Proof Standard is not just for professionals, any genealogist who wants to improve their research and get past those stumbling blocks would be well served by implementing it in their research. Our discussion is practical, down-to-earth, and hands-on.


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Female Ancestors. This presentation discusses approaches and techniques for determining an ancestor’s maiden name and locating “missing” females. Geared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher, it focuses on American records and sources. The content is not specific to any one time period and many of the approaches can be refined for different locations or types of records. If you are stymied on your female ancestors–and half your ancestors are female.
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Making and Proving Your Case. Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers, this presentation discusses things to think about before writing up “your case.” Talks about statements, primary, secondary, ways to prove yourself, considering all the options, disproving, citation, etc. Provides the viewer with ideas on how to “make their case” and see gaps or omissions in their research.
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Creating Families from Pre-1850 Census Records —This presentation discusses how to analyze pre-1850 census records in order to determine the family structure that is suggested by those records. Enumerations for one household between 1810 and 1840 are analyzed in order to determine the number of children, ranges on their years of birth, and ranges on years of birth for the oldest male and oldest female in the household.
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Court Records-Pig Blood in the Snow. This lecture discusses American court records at the county level where cases were typically originally heard. Discusses cases of main genealogical relevance along with searching techniques.

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Seeing the Patterns-Organizing Your Information. This lecture discusses the problem-solving process and a variety of ways to organize your information with the intent of getting the research to notice overlooked clues, patterns, trends, and information. $8.50 includes handout and hour-long lecture

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More Than One

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 You Find that Document

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.

Before You Hire A Professional

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.

What Residency is Required?

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.

No Court Required

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.

Final Brick Wall from A to Z webinar released

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.

Administrator’s Bondsmen

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.