Every Step in that Provenance

I wish I knew more of how this trunk came to my possession.

All I know is that it has my aunt’s name on it (Ahltje Goldenstein) and her destination (Keokuk Junction, Ills.). I purchased it from an antique dealer about 10 years ago in Keokuk, Iowa. She would only say that she purchased it an estate sale and that it was wrapped in burlap when she got it.

That was all.

If you have ancestral ephemera or artifacts, have you documented their ownership from the first person to the present? It can help you and others determine if the story is true and it helps to preserve that ownership story for future generations.

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Try their “GenealogyBank Search” and see what discoveries you make.

Five Year Gap?

If you have a chronology for an ancestor and, during their adult lifetime, you have five year gaps where you are not certain where the ancestor lived or what they were doing, try and locate a record to provide that information. Answering those questions may help you determine more about where the ancestor was from and what her origins were.

  • Did they head west?
  • Were they in an institution?
  • Did they have a financial setback?
  • Did they have a “short-term” marriage that did not last?

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Try their “GenealogyBank Search” and see what discoveries you make.

A Remainderman

A remainderman usually is someone whose title to property does not become realized until the termination of the ownership of that property by a former owner. Usually this former owner has a life estate in the property and usually has been given that life estate by someone else.

Mimke wills his wife Antje a life estate in his real property and then at her demise title is to pass to his children Johann, Jann, and Metha. Johann, Jann, and Metha are the remaindermen.

Mimke’s will may not use the word “remaindermen,” but it’s possible they are referred to by that term in other legal documents.


Before You Plow On

If you have been fortunate to locate new information on a family–particularly new names, dates, and locations: stop.

  • Take time to organize the information.
  • Cite the sources.
  • Put it in your genealogical database.
  • Then continue on your research.

Otherwise “the stack” just gets bigger to the point where you don’t know what you have and what you don’t and your research starts to go in circles.

It can be exciting to locate new information. It can be boring to organize it and put it into your computer. But it can be frustrating to be stymied in your research later because you refused to organize anything you found.

Consistent Occupation?

As you trace a relative over time and through various records, make certain the occupations listed for him (if they are given) are relatively consistent over time and with his age and probable educational status. While occupations can change and evolve during an ancestor’s life, the change should usually not be dramatic.

Or if there is a dramatic change, there should be a reason for it–war, economic depression, etc.

Those Other People On the Manifest

Always look at the names of other individuals who are travelling with your ancestor and listed on a passenger manifest–especially if they are from the same village. I had often wondered who the 12-year old (was that traveled with my uncle John Adam Trautvetter. Turns out that John Valentine Senf was the son of John Adam’s sister.

Those travelling companions might be more connected than you think. 

To An Imaginary Stranger

Can’t find that ancestor in a certain record? Can’t find the parents for a certain ancestor? Write up all the work you have done to find that record or set of parents. Explain the sources you have used, why they were used, and what was located. Pretend that you are writing it for someone who knows nothing about your family and not much about the time period or location in which you are researching.

When you explain something to someone who does not have your familiarity with the details, you are apt to notice gaps. And any of those gaps could be part of your problem.