New Webinars-Directories and Federal Land

Using Online City and Regional Directories

23 June 2015–7:00 pm Central Standard Time

This session will provide an overview of city and regional directories that are online, discussing fee-based sites, free sites, search strategies to find online directories, and search strategies for using online copies of city directories. Several case studies involving specific directories and specific individuals will be discussed as well–with cases be representative of a variety of locations and individuals

Register for Using Online Directories for $7.

Bounty Land, Preemptions, Cash Sales and Homesteads: Federal Land Records

25 June 2015–7:00 pm Central Standard Time

Ever wondered about federal land records–what they are, how they are searched, and what they can tell you about your ancestor? We will look at Bounty Land  applications, preemption claims, cash sales, and homestead records in this session. There are several ways your ancestor could have been a part of the federal land process–see how in this session.

Register for this webinar for $7.

Who Bought It?

When reading through estate records and inventories, pay close attention to those individuals who are buying property from the estate. There is a good chance that they are relatives and neighbors. In more recent times  the names may not be a dramatic revelation, but in an earlier era it may help you to establish geographic proximity of two individuals.

What Kind of Courthouse Copy Is It?

When obtaining a copy of a deed record from a courthouse, don’t forget that the deed in the courthouse is a record copy. In the early days of record keeping, those deed copies were handwritten or typed transcriptions. Later courthouse copies of deeds were made by some sort of photographic process.

It’s not the original deed in the courthouse–it’s a transcription or a reproduction. The original was retained by the person obtaining the property, just like today.

New Webinar Recordings

We’ve released the recordings of my new webinars:

  • Tightwad Genealogy
  • Where Do I Go From Here?
  • Generating Genealogy Blog Content

More details are on our webpage. If you registered and did not receive your complimentary download, please let me know. Thanks!

Will a Short Term Subscription Work?

Some researchers can access fee-based genealogical databases through their local library (either onsite or remotely using their library card). Others can access certain databases at their local Family History Library. Some can also access certain databases through a membership in a genealogical or historical society.

Then there are the rest of us .

If the options in the first paragraph aren’t realistic, consider purchasing a temporary membership to one of the fee-based sites, especially if that site has a database not available elsewhere that could help your research. Keep in mind that records are available elsewhere–it’s just that online access is physically easier and faster. You are paying for convenience.

We’ve posted longer posts on Rootdig about some sites that have materials that could be helpful because they aren’t indexed or online elsewhere as well as come general things to consider before purchasing a short-term membership.

Abbreviated Searches Are Necessary

While searching for a marriage entry for William Rhodus, I got so “hung up” on variations for Rhodus that I didn’t consider that he could have been listed by his initials or an abbreviated name. Even the minister only was named with his initials.

Schedule Checking

Keeping up with sites that regularly update or add more information can be time-consuming. Some sites send out press releases about new databases and improvements. Others do not.

Personally I’m waiting for a few counties to be added to the online chancery records at the Library of Virginia, some records to be added to the free War of 1812 pension file here at, and newspapers to the Library of Congress “Chronicling America” collection. I may be waiting a while.

I’ve have a list of things I’m waiting for on various sites that are “in progress” and I’ve decided to check monthly (or even less often) to see if new to me items are there. There’s no need to check daily or weekly and a list keeps me more organized and helps me not to forget all the items in which I have an interest.

Is the Will In the Paper?

There was a time when many American newspapers published summaries of what happened at the local term of the probate court. Details of your ancestor’s will, property owned at death, final bills, and more may have been published in the local newspaper. If probate records at the local courthouse are not extant or the case you want cannot be found, local newspapers may be able to provide some clues.

Generally speaking these notices became less frequent in the early 20th century.

Newspapers can also be a good source in burned counties. The courthouse may have burned, the some newspapers may have survived.