AncestryDNA on Sale–and Some Thoughts Before You Buy

AncestryDNA is on sale for $59 through “Cyber Monday” (27 November). Just a few quick reminders about DNA testing:

  • siblings do not share all their DNA–they will have different matches, especially as the matches are more distant
  • DNA won’t solve all your genealogical problems
  • DNA may reveal surprises that are totally unexpected
  • you may have close matches that are “out of the blue”
  • DNA supplements research in paper records–it does not replace it

Organize your information and work on extending your research while you wait for the test to arrive–including tracking down cousins. It will help you make better use of your results.

The Cat On the Counter

The cat didn’t mean to, but he was the “thought prompt” for today’s tip–which is reprinted from 2014.

Are you breaking your research down into smaller tasks? Achieving your goal in one step may simply not be possible. And if researching a family seems like a project which you will never finish, consider focusing on one person or one problem at a time and not be concerned with getting “it all done” right away. Ask yourself what one little thing can I do today to help me solve my genealogy problem?

After all, Sammie got on the kitchen counter one step at a time.

And your ancestor migrated from one place to another one step at a time as well. What was the most logical route to travel, where might he have stayed for a short time, and where might he have left records?

Your ancestor may have ended up on the counter, but he may have left a trail in several other places.

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.

Stop and Look Again: Is That Really What It Is?

Jumping to conclusions can cause you to waste research time and money. Always take a second look at a document, the statements it makes, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.

  • do you have the same person?
  • is it transcribed correctly?
  • is there another way to interpret the document?
  • do I know what all the terms really mean–or did I guess?

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>.