Vetting the Venter…Again

Do you know what is meant if you encounter the word “venter?” That’s the word used in this 1824 will from Tennessee. In this case the word is referring to a wife or mother as the “source of offspring.” The intent here is to make it clear which children are to receive this specific inheritance.

It’s not a mistaken reference to a vintner. That’s something else entirely.venter

This tip originally ran in 2015, but we thought it wouldn’t hurt to run it again.

One Letter is All It Takes

in a genealogy over 100 years ago, the last name of a relative’s second husband was incorrectly typed as “Crown.”

Turns out that the last name was actually Brown. This was discovered when the estate file of the first husband was read completely. In the first reference to the widow with her new last name, it sort of looks like Crown. But there are three later references where it is clearly Brown.

Sure enough the widow was found in other records as “Brown.”


Record Your Own Traditions and Memories


The author and his mother, Connie (Ufkes) Neill (1942-2015), along with an unidentified stuffed bear, taken near Macomb, McDonough, Illinois, Christmas probably 1970.

Don’t forget to record your own holiday memories for future generations.

If there’s not time during the holiday season to actually write, use a voice recorder of some type and simply record the memories in your own voice–that would be faster. The holidays are an excellent time to remember holidays past, but not always the best time to have time.

An audio or video recorder may facilitate that process.

What’s the Middle Initial For?

My wife’s grandmother was born Grace Alice Mortier in Rock Island County, Illinois, in 1913 and married Wilbur Johnson. In many records after her marriage, she is referred to as “Grace M. Johnson,” with the “M” standing for her maiden name. Unfortunately some have seen the reference to her as “Grace M.” and assumed that her maiden name was Grace M. Mortier–with the “M” standing for another name.

Some women used their maiden name as a middle name after their marriage. If a married woman’s middle initial is the same as the initial letter as her maiden name, that could be what the letter is standing for.

Never Mentioning the Gardener By Name

This 1927 photograph shows the garden of Anna Louise (Neuberger) Trautvetter in Chicago. Like many newspaper items of the time, she’s only listed as “Mrs. William G. Trautvetter.” When searching for females in newspapers, always consider the possibility that only their husband’s name is mentioned. anna-louise-neuberger-trautvetter-garden

Does that County have Two Courthouses?

Some counties have more than one courthouse. Make certain you know which one has the records you need. This can also confuse the unsuspecting when they use the Family History Libray card catalog for a courthouse that has two counties–the catalog will tell you this, but one has to actually READ what is on the screen.

Clerks Sometimes Know How To Spell

Clerks who were making record copies of documents were not to change anything. That handwritten copy in the records office was a legal copy of the original and needed to be exact. Clerks who noticed errors in the original would often make a notation on their handwritten copy indicating that they had noticed an error. Underlinings, wiggles above words, and other annotations usually indicate the clerk thought the original was wrong but copied it as it was written. errorscopied

Are You Missing Something?

Everyone has records that they have overlooked for a variety of reasons. That’s why it’s helpful to know what records were kept and how to access them so that nothing is overlooked. It’s easy when one is getting started to miss things and then, years later, to not realize that the record was never located. peter-verikios-world-war-1-draft

Is It an Old Abbreviation?


Immigrant trunk of Altje Goldenstein ca. 1870, in personal collection of Michael John Neill.

Abbreviations have changed over time. Make certain that you are interpreting the abbreviation in the context of the time and location in which it was created.

This immigrant trunk from the 1860-1870 era contains the abbreviation “Ills” for Illinois.That was pretty standard during the time. Other abbreviations were not.

“Ca” as a place of birth in an 1850 census record from New York State probably is a reference to Canada and not to California.