Whenever I have a difficult time finding something, I try and ask myself “why was this hard to find? ” Sometimes the “trick” was something I overlooked. Other times it wasn’t. But reminding myself of what the problem was sometimes gives me insight into other people I can’t find. One issue a recent search for an 1851 marriage from St. Louis was that I didn’t have right maiden name for the wife.
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.
I send out a weekly update with summary content from my genealogy blogs, along with a few extras. The latest copy can be viewed here.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 Fold3.com, 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.
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.