Monthly Archives: March 2017

DNA Won’t Solve Every Question

DNA testing will not solve all your genealogy problems. It is only one tool. It can confirm that a relationship exists between two people, but it needs to be used together with other genealogical sources to establish the precise nature of the relationship. DNA testing won’t tell many of the biographical details about your relative that will be in other records.

One can’t simply send their DNA to one of the sites and expect to have a completed pedigree chart returned to them. It’s more complicated than that.

I’ve finally taken the plunge and ordered a DNA test–which will be discussed in more detail on my Rootdig blog. I’m hoping to get some clues, but not a completed pedigree chart.


Problem-Solving–A Tip from the Past

There are several ways one can approach “problem-solving” and it’s been mentioned as a tip of the day before.  One way is not necessarily any more correct than another. The important thing is to think about your research as you do it. I’m a fan of the problem-solving process attributed to George Polya, which I’ve slightly modified.

There are essentially four steps in the problem-solving process:

  • Understand the problem–this involves learning the history of the area, learning the applicable laws of the time, all the records available (and their issues), knowing key terms in any documents already located, assumptions you have made, your ancestor’s background, etc. Understanding takes time.
  • Plan–pick a record to access or an approach to use to answer your question
  • Execute-search the record or apply the approach
  • Evaluate-did you answer your question?

That’s a broad generalization.  We discuss some of these items in slightly more detail in occasional tips and the Rootdig blog mentions them in more detail–sometimes a lot more detail.

My webinar on “Genealogical Problem-Solving” can be purchased for immediate download–handout and media file included.

County Histories Can Mention Non-Residents

County histories may mention people who never lived there. This Marlborough, NH history mentions a native of Ontario never set foot in New Hampshire. She married into a family who spent time in New Hampshire–but the family member she married left as a young man and never returned.  The clue to your puzzle may have been published several states away.


Not All Children May Be Listed

It seems obvious, but a will only lists those children to whom property is being given in the will. A testator (the person signing the will) may have had other children to whom property had already been given. These children may not be named in the will. Sometimes they are named if only to state that they have already received their inheritance and are not intentionally being left out.

Do not assume every child is named in the will.

Do not assume there have to be other children either.

Appraisers Can’t Be Heirs or Beneficiaries

Appraisers of an estate can be relatives of the deceased, but they cannot (usually) be heirs or beneficiaries of the estate. If one of the appraisers of an estate has the same last name as the deceased, then they are not an heir or a beneficiary. It usually is a violation of state statute, not to mention good practice, to appoint someone with a direct interest in an estate as an appraiser of that estate.


One Year Given Off the Cuff

I had to sign my daughter up for one online class in order to complete her degree in May of 2017. I was asked the year she graduated high school. I was not 100% certain and realized (or hoped) that being a year off wouldn’t be a problem.

What is the chance your relative guessed on a date because they thought it would not be a problem…and, after all, who is ever going to see this in one hundred years?

Brick Wall Busters 2017 Webinar Released

Get your research rolling…..

This hour-long presentation (aimed at advanced beginner and intermediate researchers) focuses on research approaches to get you past “brick walls”. We will look at reasons why we have “brick walls” and how we may be making our own “brick walls.” Focus will be on problem-solving, getting past assumptions, realizing what we know versus what we think we know, and completely analyzing and understanding what we already have.

Order here for immediate download. Recorded presentation and handout included.


The Children of Your Problem Person

If you’ve got an ancestor on which you are stuck, have you completely and exhaustively researched all their children? It’s possible that in some record on one of those children is a clue to the parent who is giving you difficulty.

Don’t just research the child from whom you descend–research them all.

Don’t just focus on online sources either.