Monthly Archives: August 2016

Is there a First Name You Know Nothing Of?

Those “missing” relatives could be hiding under a first name of which you are not aware. I have two great-aunts (one by birth and one by marriage) had actual first names that they never used past their childhood. They used their middle names as their “legal” name. That middle name is on all their documents, their tombstone, etc.

Except in records before they were married–those all list them by their “real” first name.

Is someone hiding in records because they have another name of which you are not aware?

Is It Unique?

My ancestor’s 1883 death register entry indicated there was no undertaker. Looking at other entries on the same page, it was clear that others in the county did not have undertakers either. It’s impossible to notice if something is unusual if you don’t look at other records on the same page.

Always view a record in the context of other records. Look at entries before and after the one of interest to see if what you think is unique about your record is really unique after all.


Michael’s Blogs

I write the following blogs:

I write the following fee-based newsletters:

  • Casefile Clues–genealogy how-to and methodology, clear, down-to-earth, and practical.
  • Genealogy Blog Update–a weekly summary of my blog postings, with some additional “update-only” content–for those who don’t necessarily want daily emails, including:
    • citation of the week
    • tombstone of the week
    • picture of the week
    • letter of the week
    • and more!

Transcribe As It Is Written

trautvetter-transcribe-it-rightSometimes genealogists are tempted to “fix” documents when transcribing them. Don’t. Make comments about the accuracy of the document in your notes accompanying the transcription. Do not indicate the document says something that it does not.

Documents can be wrong.

But sometimes they are right when we think they are wrong and if we “correct” them, we won’t know what they originally said.

This draft card should be transcribed as a birth in Hancock, [State of] Tioga. My notation indicates that the reference is to Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois.


Don’t Make it a Maiden Name if You Are Not Certain

elkatammenThe 1895 will of Tamme Tammen in Pike County, Illinois, refers to his wife as “Elka B. Franklen Tammen.”

Franklen (actually most likely Franken given where the Tammens were from) could have been Elka’s maiden name, middle name, or married name with a previous husband.

I should include in my notes on Elka that she is referred to as “Elka B. Franklen Tammen” in her husband’s 1895 will. I should not enter that as her maiden name.

Using it for a clue to other relatives when searching is advised. But there’s not really good evidence in this will that it’s her maiden name. There are other possibilities.

This will is analyzed in detail in Issue 3-51 of Casefile Clues.

Bible Records In the Pension?


United States military pensions may mention information contained in a family Bible as evidence in a pension claim. Often family register entries are used to document births or marriages. In some Revolutionary War pensions, the actual pages from the Bible may have been submitted. The illustration in this post is from 1915 and is typical of Union Civil War pensions where affidavits about the Bible’s content were used instead of having veterans submit the actual Bible pages.

This affidavit was analyzed in issue 3-50 of Casefile Clues.