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A witness to a document typically is only indicating that they know who signed the document in question. A witness has to be of legal age and sound mind, but does not have to have any relationship to the person actually making out the document.
Don’t draw too many conclusions about a person who only witnesses one of your ancestor’s documents. The witness just might have been another warm body in the office the same time as your ancestor.
Is there a region (county, state, etc.) where you are researching and you don’t have any contemporary map of the area? Even a modern map is better than nothing.
Researching in an area without understanding the geography is asking to be confused.
Most immigrants to the United States did naturalize after they had been in the United States for some time. Some never naturalized, which would explain the lack of a naturalization record. Some naturalized before 1906 when any court of record could naturalize and if you don’t know where your ancestor resided for every moment of his life, you might not locate the record. And others may have thought they were naturalized by their father’s naturalization and that they did not need to naturalize themselves.
Keep in mind that especially before the 1920s, naturalization laws were confusing to many. One of those confused might have been your ancestor.
It may take years for the estate of your ancestor to have been completely settled. As a result, the probate file for your ancestor who died in 1840 may be filed with those cases settled in the 1860s.
Do you plan your research and decide what to do and how to do it before you it? Or do you just start typing things in search boxes and hoping? Do you randomly look for families in various records, hoping something comes up as the result?
While there is nothing wrong with hope, a little organization of your search can save you from frustration later and allow you to better trouble-shoot unsuccessful searches.
And do you have any research goals?
We’ve just released the media file for my latest webinar which focuses on knowing what you are searching on FamilySearch.
If you are confused by states that have multiple indexes to the “same” set of vital records, why a marriage entry appears multiple times in an index, or how to see what was used to create the index, then this webinar is for you.
We focus on American sources, but the methods will apply to other locations as well. This presentation is not for complete beginners–some research experience is necessary.
You can download the media for only $4 during our introductory price offer. A PayPal account is not necessary, you can “click through” and when time for payment comes, click as a “guest” and use your non-PayPal credit card.
When trying to obtain a copy of a vital record, begin searching at the local level first (town, county, etc.), then try the state records office. Avoiding search firms that advertise for “immediate” delivery will be easier on your pocketbook. Determine if any records are available online or on microfilm via FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org).
Chances are you do not need the death certificate tomorrow, via overnight mail. Don’t pay for services you do not need.
When was the last time you visited the FamilySearch site to see if there were scanned images of local records in areas where you have family?
Even if you ignore the “compiled trees,” (which isn’t a bad idea), there are still many, many actual images of records on the site–all free.
Sometimes ancestors might appear in records where they are “not supposed to.”
Recently while using draft registration cards for men in Georgia born between 1 July 1924 and 31 December 1924, I ran across a card for a man born on 13 September 1925. It was marked “cancelled,” but still appeared with the other cards.
Sometimes things that are not supposed to be, are.