Initial Letter or Prefix Dropped?

Initial letters or prefixes of names can be intentionally or inadvertently omitted, with:

  • Knight becoming Night
  • Hoffman becoming Aufmann
  • O’Neill becoming Neill
  • MacArthur becoming Arthur
  • Van De Burg becoming Berg
  • etc.

Is it possible a first letter or two was dropped when your name of interest was entered in a record? img_20170220_152003

A Funny Full Text Search

Full text searches are not always perfect. On 19 February 2017 a search for the word “ufkes” resulted in two matches in the face of Lt. General James Brickel.ocrintheface

Webinar “Using Indexes at FamilySearch” Released

Using Indexes at FamilySearch

Making the best use of indexed materials at FamilySearch requires a knowledge and understanding of how the indexes at FamilySearch work and how they do not. After providing an overview of search strategies to use at FamilySearch we will look at several examples where locating the person of interest was more involved than simply typing their name the search box and finding it the first time. This presentation will also briefly address organizing your online search strategy. Handout included.

Order for immediate download.

Tear Down Your Assumptions

We’ve mentioned this before, but some problems can be worked around or solved by thinking about every assumption we have made about an ancestor and “their situation.”

Every assumption.

Especially those that are near and dear to our heart. Those are the ones that can create the biggest stumbling blocks.  If you don’t have documentation for a “fact” about your ancestor, then that fact could be incorrect. Even if you do have documentation for a fact, that documentation could be incorrect.

Always consider the possibility that what you think you know could be wrong–and then ask yourself:

what would I do differently if this “fact” weren’t true?

And then do it.

Negative Evidence

Negative evidence generally is a conclusion that one draws from the absence of information that one would suspect. Not finding an ancestor’s name on a real estate tax list would be negative evidence indicating he did not own property in that area–because if he did own property, his name would be on the real property tax list

Put Tombstones in Context

When taking pictures of gravestones, always take at least one picture showing the relative positions of all stones you’ve photographed. The positioning may not hold clues, but it’s a good piece of information to get while you are in the cemetery. Pictures showing the relative position of the stones in the entire cemetery–or at least near landmarks within the cemetery–is a good idea as well.

With digital images, “wasting film” isn’t a concern. The best time to take the pictures is while you are right there at the source. behrens-south-prairie

Download and Search While You Can

Two years ago one of the fee-based websites that has digital images of newspapers had images of my hometown newspaper for the year in which I was born. I am absolutely certain of it. I downloaded a copy of my birth announcement, my grandfather’s obituary, and my great-grandfather’s obituary.

Two days ago, I went back to search for another item from that same time period. The newspapers were not there.

Always search and download when you can. You never know when that website may no longer have the database you need.

Or that you simply can’t find that item that it took you hours to locate.

Think, Engage,and Interact–Don’t Just React

At Genealogy Tip of the Day we want you to think about your research: how you decide what material to research, how you find material, how you analyze material. We want you to think about what sources you may not have looked at, what assumptions about your ancestor may not be true, and what conclusions regarding your ancestor may need to be re-evaluated.

Think, engage, and interact with what you find–don’t just react.

Time Matters

“The couple waited to get married because they were on the frontier and there were no preachers to marry them.”  In Ohio in the 1810s that could happen. That probably does not explain the situation in Illinois in 1890.

“The county boundary was always changing and that’s why I am having research difficulties.” In Virginia in the 1600s, that could be the problem. That’s probably not the difficulty in Iowa in 1910. (County boundaries can always change, but tend to happen more when territory is frontier and in the early stages of being settled.)

Any justification for not finding a record should make sense in the time period and the location in which the ancestor lived. Just because someone else used that “excuse” for why they could not locate something does not mean it necessarily applies to your situation.


Were the Kids Farmed Out?

If you “lose a child” of a couple on which you are working, don’t assume the child died? It’s possible that he went to live with a relative or even a stranger if the family had too many mouths to feed or if the relative needed extra help on the farm or with the household chores and young children.

It was not unheard of to “farm out” children to others–and this applies to farming and non-farming ancestors.

If the child disappeared, consider that she could be living with other relatives. If that relative lived a distance away, the child may have ended up settling in that area.