Monthly Archives: November 2017

Legatees Versus Devisees

If a will or estate settlement refers to some individuals as legatees and to others as devisees, there is a difference.

Generally speaking legatees take legacies (personal or chattel property) from the estate  and devisees take devises (real property) from the estate. The are bequeathed the property in the individual’s will.

They are different from heirs. Heirs are individuals who have the right to inherit from an individual based upon their biological relationship to the deceased and contemporary statute. Legatees and devisees can be heirs, but they do not have to be.

A testator can bequeath property in their will so that heirs receive nothing.

Identify Photographs During the Holidays

The holidays can be a time to bore your relatives with family stories. Try and avoid this.

Another holiday genealogical activity is to put out unidentified photographs at family gatherings and see if anyone can remember:

  • who is in the picture
  • when it was taken
  • where it was taken
  • what was going on when it was taken
  • etc.

It may take a village to identify the photograph. One relative may remember one detail, another may remember something else, discussion may trigger memories, etc. Don’t try and insist that someone remember everything–and even an “irrelevant” clue may end up being significant.

And it’s allowable if you can’t identify everything in the picture. I still don’t remember the name of the stuffed animal shown in the illustration to this post.

Giving A Genealogy Holiday Present?

If you’re giving someone (including yourself) a present of a genealogical nature this holiday season, consider using one of our links to make your purchase. Using these links helps Genealogy Tip of the Day keep the lights on. Thanks!

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBankCheck out their latest offer for our fans and readers.

Those Old Employers

To learn more about your ancestor’s employer as given in a city directory, search the rest of the city directory as it may include advertisements or list the employer in a list of area businesses. Consider performing a Google search for the name of the business and search local and regional histories as well, many of which have been digitized at Google Books ( or ( Old newspapers may also provide more information on the business in question.

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBankCheck out their latest offer for our fans and readers.

Do You Know the Limitations?

Every database, index, record, or compilation has limitations. Do you know at least one limitation for each finding aid or actual record you use?

  • Transcriptions may include errors.
  • Search engines may not work the way you think they do–or the way another site does.
  • Informants on death certificates don’t have to prove every statement they make.
  • Census takers may guess at information or ask uninformed neighbors.
  • Probate records generally will not list relatives who died without descendants.
  • Land records do not include those who rent their land.
  • Indexes are not always full-name indexes.
  • Affidavits in pension claims can contain lies or exaggerations.
  • And so it goes.

For every source you use, every database you query, every book you read–ask yourself what limitations there may be.

Knowing the limitations doesn’t mean that we don’t use the item.

Knowing the limitations makes us better informed users.

Don’t Be Chicken–Look in the Back of the Directory

Residential or business directories may contain sub-directories of specific occupations after the “main directory.” These directories may contain additional clues about your ancestor. Don’t just find your ancestor once and quit.

There may be smaller directories in the back.

The illustration shows a list of Silver-Laced Wyan-Dotte chicken breeders in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1918.

Look in the back. Don’t be chicken <grin>.

Using the Internet to Transcribe

There are a variety of ways that one can use the internet to help transcribe a document that has a difficult to read term or phrase:

  • Google-search the internet for what the word or item “looks like” and see if someone else has encountered it or something similar. Google does find reasonably close spellings. Search engines will not always help though–particularly if your document is extremely difficult to read.
  • Online gazetteers for the area of interest–the United States Geological Survey’s Geographic Names Information System  for areas in the United States. Other locations have similar finding aids. Some place names are colloquial, so abstract, or so old that they will not be located in an index or finding aid.
  • Online groups--Facebook and other sites have genealogical groups where others may be able to assist or offer suggestions. Try and concentrate first on groups dedicated to the area where the record was located. Not everyone online knows what they are talking about so take some suggestions with a grain of salt.

Use Names Not Relationships

When referring to family members in your writing, on pictures, etc. make certain you refer to them by name, not just by their relationship to you.

Aunt Helen on the back of a picture could refer to more than one person.

Uncle John in some families could refer to a multitude of people.

And “Mom,” while a term of endearment for many, is about as vague as it gets.

Use the person’s complete name at least once so that it is clear. In the same piece of writing they can later be referred to as “Aunt,” “Uncle,” “Dad,” etc. but the first reference should make it clear that you are talking about Fannie (Rampley) Neill, not just Aunt Fannie.

And a range of their life span might also be a good idea.