Grandma Really Wasn’t Grandma After All

Sometimes relationship terms are also used as terms of affection, even if there is no biological relationship. Take care when a letter, diary, or a relative refers to someone as an “aunt” or an “uncle.” The use of the term may have been done out of respect and not necessarily indicate a biological relationship.

Of course, you may gain some clues or insight by researching this person, but if you find no biological connection between the individual and your family be open to the possibility that “Grandma” wasn’t really “Grandma” after all.


Order of the Children

For families that lived during a time of no vital records genealogists often do not have dates of birth. In some cases, it may even be difficult to estimate years of birth if records are not available. In cases such as these, make certain that you indicate the birth order is either a guess or inferred from the order of children in a will or another document. If children married, years of birth could be estimated from the marriage dates.

And ask yourself, would any of my conclusions change if the order of birth for these children change? Most times they wouldn’t, but you never know.


Bothering With a Brother’s Baptism

Reading the German language records was difficult and I almost didn’t bother obtaining copies of the baptismal entries for the siblings of John George Trautvetter who was born in 1798.

And there in the entry for one of John George’s brother was the indication that their father’s brother was the sponsor.

A helpful hint in this case where knowing as many relationships as possible is necessary because every family had a George and a Michael and every son’s first name was Johann.

Don’t neglect those ancestral siblings.

Join me for my upcoming online AncestryDNA class.


Sources: Original Versus Derivative

Generally speaking, sources are considered to be original or derivative. The words mean what they say, but sometimes there can be confusion. The original is the first one–the actual letter your relative wrote (the physical piece of paper they touched and used their writing utensil on). Any picture, transcription, scan, photocopy, etc. is a derivative.

Some derivatives are the legal equivalent of the original–the record copy of a deed or a will that is recorded in a records office. Some derivatives are mechanical reproductions that reproduce the document faithfully (unaltered color photographs for instance).

Calling something original or derivative is simply referencing its creation. Whether that something is accurate is another story.


Monthly Genealogy Reminders-Download, Identify, Preserve

A few quick reminders:

  • download files/images from websites when you find them–websites change, licensing agreements change, you may have to cancel a membership
  • identify any pictures you have–before it’s too late
  • preserve pictures and other ephemera–especially if your copy is the “only” one.



Hunting for Your Ancestor’s Employer

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. Perform a Google search for the name of the business, search old newspapers, and search local and regional histories as well, many of which have been digitized at GoogleBooks ( or (

Join me for my upcoming online AncestryDNA class.