Was It An Error of Habit?

A clerk or transcriptionist can easily spell something in the way they are used to–even if the word is not supposed to be spelled that way.

I have two ancestors whose last name is Bieger. I’ve typed the name more times that I can remember.

Recently I had cause to mention the singer Justin Bieber in a comment on Facebook. It took me four times to spell his last name as “Bieber” instead of “Bieger.” I wanted to spell the name the way I was use to spelling names that started with “Bie” and ended in “r.”

Is it possible that a clerk’s “mistake” was simply a habit that they applied to your relatives name when they should not have?

Organize As You Research

While it can be exciting to find things, try and organize as you research. If you are in the habit of saving files and making “notes” as you go, it is easy to go in circles, overlook things, and spin your wheels needlessly when you avoid data entry and organization until “later.”

Put Children in Chronology of Their Parents’ Lives

Always put the births of children in the chronology of their parents’ lives. Were the parents a “usual” age when they started having children? There are several reasons why a person can wait to get married, but an age that is slightly older could mean there was a previous marriage–perhaps that resulted in no children.

Or it could just mean that they waited until they found the right person. The ages on this passenger list are correct and suggest the mother was around 31 when the daughter was born and that the father was around 37. wait-to-hitchj

Dying to Use My Own Dialect

The name in this 1880 census enumeration does not look like Henry Herzog, but that’s what it is. This entry from Hancock County, Illinois’ Walker Township (family 193, dwelling 195)  looks like Henry something or other.

The census taker was a German native and wrote in a handwriting that was difficult to read. It is very possible that he wrote “Herzog” the way it sounded to him. Henry Herzog was a German as well, but if he and the census enumerator were from different areas and spoke differing dialects the rendering of the last name could be very creative.

Always consider how your ancestor said his name.

Always consider how the keeper of the record heard the name and what biases he may have had.

Always consider sloppy handwriting.

Because sometimes all three are playing a role. henry-herzog1880

Webinar Closeout–Don’t Wait

The download service I use for the webinars only allows me so much space and I’m at the limit. I need to decide which ones to keep selling, which ones to no longer offer, and–I need a change of pace for a while.

So…effective 11 May 2016, I’ll no longer be selling the recorded copies of old webinars as shown below (we’ll still have our scheduled ones in May and will have downloads for those who register and happen to miss those). But we will be stopping the sales for a while so that I can regroup and focus.problem-solving2

Now’s a great time to order. Our prices are low and orders over $50 can receive an additional discount by using coupon code 2016over50.

View the entire listing page-where you can also order.

Don’t wait!

Topics include:

  • Brick Wall Strategies
  • Female Ancestors
  • Using the Bureau of Land Management Website and the BLM Tract Books
  • Pre-1850 census family reconstruction
  • Getting More from Ancestry.com
  • Citing Images
  • Determining Your Ancestor’s Migration Chain
  • Organizing Online Searches
  • Online Maryland Land Records
  • Genealogical Problem Solving
  • Charts, Charts, and More Charts
  • Preparing for a Trip to the Family History Library
  • Using Free Passenger Lists on FamilySearch
  • Using Free US Probate Records on FamilySearch
  • Determining If Your pre-1866 era Veteran Received a Military Benefit
  • Using Online City and Regional Directories
  • Where do I Go From Here?
  • What to Blog About?
  • Tightwad Genealogy
  • Courthouse Basics
  • Probate Records on Ancestry.com-Part I
  • Probate Records on Ancestry.com–Part II
  • Using Free Online US Local Land Records at FamilySearch
  • Using Free War of 1812 Pensions at Fold3.com
  • Using Land Patents Online at Library of Virginia
  • Using Digital Newspapers at Library of Congress
  • Getting More from FamilySearch
  • Using the ELCA Records at Ancestry.com
  • Getting More from Newspapers
  • Effective Census Strategies for Ancestry.com
  • Using Archive.org
  • Using WorldCat

View the entire listing page-where you can also order.

Do You Ask Permission to Use that Photograph?

Ielizabeth-trautvetter-burke-herzogf you are only going to use an image for your own personal use, then asking permission is not usually an issue. However, if you are going to post the image on a website, a public tree, a blog, etc. then it’s a good idea to ask permission.

One reason is that it is the right thing to do.

Another reason is that the photographer may have additional items, better photographs, etc. Irritating them may make them less willing to share information with you.

[note; The following paragraph was somehow deleted from this post when it originally went out.]

The best reason for not using a picture that you did not take is that the original photographer has copyright to the photograph that they took. It is their picture to use publicly as they see fit, not you. Whether the item they photographed is easily in public view does not matter. Whether it is the tombstone your great-grandfather paid for does not matter. What matters is who took the picture. 

I have usually had requests to use FindAGrave images granted. But remember it’s up to the photographer.


Join me for a webinar on using Irfanview for your digital images or order my recent presentation on citing digital images.

Heirs of One May Not Be Heirs of Another

Never assume that the heirs of one person are necessarily all heirs of their spouse they had at death. It is easily possible that there were multiple marriages by either the husband or the wife. This could result in them having different heirs.

But a missing heir when the surviving spouse dies could simply mean that that heir died before the surviving spouse did and that heir left no descendants of their own.

Bottom line: compare heirs of the husband and wife if you can to find clues about potential multiple marriages.



Learn more about US probate records in my class.

Genealogical Statements

This is from a post (in part) I wrote in 2015 on my Rootdig blog.

Are you making “genealogical statements?”
Genealogical statements can be seen as being about an individual or expressing a relationship between two individuals. Genealogical statements about individuals usually are relatively specific as to time and location:

  • Johann Schmidt was born in 1845 in Schteenytinystadt, Germany.
  • Thomas Rampley purchased property in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1818.
  • James Rampley is buried in Buckeye Cemetery, Hancock County, Illinois.
  • Riley Rampley served in Company D of the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry from 1861-1865.

Genealogical statements between two individuals generally express a relationship between those two individuals (precise times and locations may not be known but they are helpful in distinguishing individuals from others of the same name):

  • James Rampley and Elizabeth Chaney were married in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1830.
  • James Rampley was the father of Riley Rampley who was born in 1835 in Coshocton County, Ohio.
  • Conrad Haase was the step-father of Francis (Bieger) Trautvetter who lived in Hancock County, Illinois, from 1851 until 1888.
  • The John Tinsley who died in Amherst County, Virginia, in the 1810s was the father of Sally (Tinsley) Sledd whose husband Thomas Sledd died in Bourbon County, Kentucky around 1815.

Statements can also be negative:

  • Edward Tinsley, who died in Amherst County, Virginia, in the 1780s was married to Margaret, but she was not the daughter of James Taylor who died in Essex County, Virginia, in 1759.

We use information gleaned as records as evidence to construct a proof that supports our genealogical statement. Because our goal is to construct a proof, we don’t have a specific statement in mind when we are researching. When researchers try and prove a specific statement the tendency can be to work to “prove that statement” at the risk of overlooking evidence that supports other conclusions.