Your family might have emigrated to the United States over a series of generations. My ancestor’s brother Tonjes Jurgens Ehmen immgirated to the US in the 1860s, leaving behind one brother who stayed in Germany, married and raised a family.
That brother had 11 children of his own, all born in Germany. All but two of those children immigrated to the United States between roughly 1870 and 1890. One of the children who stayed in Germany and had several children of his own–including one who came to the United States in 1910.
For three generations, some members of the Ehmen family immigrated to America while others stayed behind in Germany. The immigrants originally settled where they had relatives, later moving on to other areas of the United States.
Were your ancestors part of a multi-generational chain of migration?
Do not assume that an ancestor who has a surname as a middle name got it because that was his (or her) mother’s maiden name. Henry Johnson Smith might have gotten his middle name from a non-relative whose name was Johnson.
And George Washington Jones’ mother probably was not a Washington.
Surnames as middle names may be clues as to connections or they may be something else altogether.
When identifying people on pictures, writing about them in your research notes, or asking someone about them, try and avoid only using a relationship to describe the person.
Writing “John’s Grandma” on the back of a picture is helpful, but still pretty vague. Who was John and which Grandma is it?
When asking your own Grandma questions, asking her to tell you something about “Grandma” may result in her not talking about who you think she is talking about. Ask her about a specific person–referring to them by name.
When I asked my Grandma questions, I was less confused if I said something like “tell me about your Grandpa–John Trautvetter” instead of asking about “Grandpa Trautvetter.” When I asked about “Grandpa Trautvetter” it took me awhile to realize she was talking about her dad who was my dad’s Grandpa Trautvetter.
Try and avoid creating more confusing and don’t refer to people only by their relationship.
Even if you are certain about a transcription or an interpretation of something, it never hurts to let it “sit” and check it over again one more time. Especially when it’s had a chance to “sit” and is cold.
This is a great way to catch omissions and mistakes. And reviewing “old material” is a great way to use time when you can’t think of anything else to do, but want to do something.
Deeds to seemingly small pieces of property may hold more genealogical clues than one realizes.
A deed for a comparatively minuscule portion of the property may have been drawn up to clear up a property line or a title. Deeds for fraction portions of property may also have been drawn up to settle an estate.
If great-grandpa owned several hundred acres, don’t ignore those deeds for a couple of acres. They may contain more clues than you think.
Based upon yesterday’s tip about US passport applications, we’ve created the following blog post on our sister site–http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2012/08/finding-us-passport-applications-1795.html
Did any relative in the United States obtain an early 20th century passport? Applications for passports in this era frequently included information on where the person was born as well as where the person’s father was born and whether or not the father was a United States citizen.
When personally visiting a cemetery, make certain you read the entire stone for clues–front, back, left, right. Sometimes there may even be a symbol engraved on the top–that could be a clue as well.
Keep a running list of terms and definitions for those words you encounter in your research but cannot remember. It will save you the time of looking them up and failing to know the correct meaning of a word or a phrase can seriously hinder your research.
Blog readers, followers, and email subscribers to Genealogy Tip of the Day can get my second “Brick Walls from A to Z” webinar for free by using this link:
I’ve given four of these “Brick Walls from A To Z” presentations–this offer is for the second one. Each one has different suggestions. This is the first time we’ve offered the second presentation for free.
Link expires 48 hours after this post goes live at 10:54 PM Central–15 August 2012.