Greeting Cards Clues?

Years ago, I went through the cards my parents received when they married. Most of the names I recognized as relatives of one of my parents. Many of the others had last names that I knew had to be neighbors. There were several I didn’t recognize and I asked Mom who they were from. Most of those were from college friends of my Mom or teaching colleagues early in her career.

Then there was one.

No idea who she was. But I made a note of the name.

It was years later that I found out who she was–a first cousin once removed of my paternal grandmother. I had no idea she was still living in 1968.

Too bad Mom didn’t save the envelopes, but we can’t have everything (grin!).


Criminal Associates

Genealogists are often familiar with the importance of working on not just immediate ancestors, but neighbors, slightly-more-distant relatives, and associates. Information on these individuals can sometimes give either direct or indirect insight into the ancestors in question.

And if your ancestor was involved in any sort of criminal activity, do you know who his (or her) partners-in-crime were? Those associates can be clues as well.

For a longer post, read “Partners in Crime.”

My Blogs, Newsletters, Etc.

To reduce confusion, here’s a list of my newsletters, blogs, etc

  • Genealogy Tip of the Day(one tip every day)—free to get daily–subscribe on the blog
  • Genealogy Search Tip of the Day (but not always every day)-  (genealogy search sites and online search tips)—free to get daily–subscribe on the blog
  • Rootdig -(research stories, frustrations, and whatever interests me–a genealogical potpourri without the annoying smell)–free to get daily–subscribe on the blog
  • Casefile Clues Blog(updates on my how-to newsletter)–blog is free to get
  • Michael’s Weekly Blog Update –(weekly summary from all my blogs)–$5 a year–weekly
  • Casefile Clues-PDF Newsletter-(usually weekly how-to newsletter on document analysis, methodology, and more–grow your research skills–it’s easy to understand, cited, )-$20 for 52 issues.

Consider subscribing to the Michael’s Weekly Blog Update or to Casefile Clues. We try and keep the prices affordable and easy on the budget. There’s not a better genealogical education budget than Casefile Clues. It’s easy-to-read, straight-forward, and not full of overly pretentious academic prose written to appeal to an editor or reviewer.


Devise, Devisee, and Devisor

The three Ds of the day are:

  • devise–gift of real property, usually by the last will and testament of the giver
  • devisee–the person receiving real property, usually by a last will and testament
  • devisor–the person giving real property, usually by a last will and testament

Devise is the gift of real property given to the devisee by the devisor.

Casefile Clues is Back

After a hiatus, Casefile Clues is back!

We’ve put out four issues since resuming publication. Casefile Clues focuses on being readable, understandable, and practical. Articles exhibit sound research methods and analysis–but are not tedious or difficult to follow. Sample issues can be downloaded on our website.

Learn more about Casefile Clues

If you’ve not been getting your issues and you are a subscriber, email me at

And if you’re not a subscriber, consider subscribing today!

Casefile Clues content is separate from our blog content.

Story Writing Reminder

No matter what item you have from your past, write down the item’s story.

Before you forget.

Items don’t have to be family Bibles, letters, fancy jewelry, or similar items. They can be milk cans, hay hooks, irons, skillets, or even plants. But their story should be recorded. The writing of the story may even generate additional memories or questions.

This tiger lily’s predecessor was owned by my great-grandmother at least as early as the 1940s and likely sooner. Its history briefly:

  • at home of Mimka and Tjode (Goldenstein) Habben west of Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois–at least in the 1940s and 1950s
  • home of John and Dorothy (Habben) Ufkes, north of Ferris, Hancock County, Illinois–probably from the 1940s through 1960
  • home of John and Dorothy (Habben) Ufkes, east of Basco, Hancock County, Illinois–1960 through 1987
  • home of John and Dorothy (Habben) Ufkes, Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, 1987-early 2000s.
  • my home

Thinking about where everyone lived and when got me to thinking about things not really related to the plant. Documenting the “existence” of an item may raise more genealogical questions that you originally thought.

Counting Separately

cattleWhen I was a kid, my dad and I would count the cattle as they crossed the road from one pasture to another. It was important to arrive at the same correct number. The only problem was that my father tended to count out loud and his counting always got me off.

Is part of the reason for your research difficulty that you are listening  to what someone else has already concluded? Are you letting their interpretations influence yours–perhaps a little too much? Sometimes it’s helpful to put away the conclusions of others and start your analysis from scratch.

Then, when you’re done counting your cows separately, you can compare your conclusions with others.

When the Bible Was Printed

Always look at the year a family Bible was printed. Entries written for events before that date must have been written from memory or copied from somewhere else.

It does not necessarily mean that they are incorrect, but that they were not written as they took place.

Considering the Consideration

If the amount of “consideration,” or what was given for the real estate (often cash), is a token amount, determine if there was a relationship among the people involved.

Transfers of significant pieces of real estate for token amounts are often done to clear up title among relatives. Not always, but frequently.

Check out the relationships among those who transfer land for little to no cash.

Work From What You Know

It can be tempting when viewing your autosomal DNA matches to immediately start on the one family you “really” want to know about or that match that really confuses you and ignore the families you aren’t immediately interested in.


Work out the other ones that may be a little easier to figure out–especially when getting started. There’s three main reasons for doing that:

  • it will improve your DNA analytical skills
  • later you may need to use what you’ve figured out to see where you still have gaps
  • you may make discoveries on families you “thought you had figured out”

And you may build your confidence by having some luck with the easier ones first.

You’re not going to figure them all out in one day and your best DNA discoveries are not made immediately.

Be patient with your results–and with yourself.

See Michael’s list of DNA analysis webinars–download immediate.