Some people research their family to find a Revolutionary War ancestor, a Mayflower ancestor, or a connection to another famous historical event.
Instead of trying to connect to a specific event or person, focus on tracing your ancestry as accurately as you can. Be thankful for the ancestors and stories you do find.
Some city directories have a reverse directory in the back that lists residents based on their address. Don’t just quit when you find people in the alphabetical listing, make certain there’s not more in the back of the book.
A probate court typically is the local court where your deceased ancestor’s estate would be “settled up.” However there are times when the heirs cannot agree to the point where there is court action in a civil court or court of equity. Partition suits and other estate squabbles may be in a separate court file from the probate record–and may contain more detail, particularly if the case drug on for several years.
Receipts in probate files may give locations suggesting where the deceased lived. These references can be helpful in estate files where there is no real property to describe or locate.
Spelling variations or misreadings where consonants are changed can frustrate searches, particularly where interchanged letters don’t sound alike. In this example, a “v” was replaced with an “r.” That’s different enough that sound-based searches don’t often work.
A house fire or natural disaster could easily explain why your branch of the family has few pictures or other family ephemera. In one case, I am lucky that there are many things as there are given a house fire in 1924.
Situations such as this make it all the more important to contact members of your extended family to see if they have copies of pictures or other items—and to preserve information you have as well.
Ancestry.com is not a video game, don’t treat your subscription like one where you can always find whatever you want when you want. Save your images to your own media so you have them if you ever let your membership lapse (downloaded online Ancestry.com files don’t include images).
And analyze what you find as you find it—avoid merely clicking your way to a collection of images that may or may not be related to the exact same person.
My aunt had a baby several years before she was married in the early 1870s. Family members had always assumed that the baby was the child of the aunt’s eventual husband. Court records indicated that the “early” child was not the child of the eventual husband, but was instead the child of another man who left shortly after he learned my aunt was pregnant.
There are two obituaries for one of my ancestors. One says he died at the home of son George. The other says he died at the home of son Fred. The reminders from this are:
- cite your source–so you know what said what
- get as many different sources as you can–they may not agree
- any source can be in error
- all obituaries are not created equally
When I only look in one place and fail to cite where I got it, I’m eventually going to be confused.