Monthly Archives: September 2018

Airing out the Heirs

“Heir-at-law” is usually a specific term defined in state statute. Who qualifies as an “heir-at-law” depends upon the family structure of the individual who has died. In this illustration the father is listed as an heir-at-law. Reference to state statute would be needed to be 100% certain, but parents are not heirs if the deceased left descendants. This reference to the father as an heir would indicate that Andrew Ramsey had no descendants.

Andrew could have had siblings.


The Census We Use Is Not the Original–Usually

Remember that the census we use today was not the one on which the census taker took his “original” enumeration.

The census copy that was microfilmed, and eventually digitized, was the “clean” copy that was written by the census taker after he finished taking the census. He used his field notes to make the good copy that we use today.

Any chance there was something in his field notes he couldn’t read? And what was the chance that he went down and asked for clarification on an age or place of birth?


Widow for a Day or Longer?

I almost overlooked the death certificate of her husband.

The lady I was researching died in 1914 and was listed as a widow. I didn’t look at the death certificate for a man with the same last name who also died in 1914, thinking it could not be her husband.

Turns out is was. They died 4 days apart. Don’t assume anything. Being listed as a widow only means her husband died before her. It could have been 2 days or 20 years.


From Whom Was the First Land Purchase Made?

If your ancestor was a landowning farmer and migrated from Point A to Point B, see from whom he purchased that first piece of property when he arrived in Point B. It might have been a relative or former associate, neighbor, etc. The owner of that property in Point B might have been looking to sell it and heard that his relative or former neighbor was thinking of moving. Worth a shot when you are stuck.


Chrome Extension for AncestryDNA Users–Color Code Your Matches

An extension for AncestryDNA users who use the Google Chrome browser has been released. It allows users to “tag” matches with up to eight colors and identify what these colors stand for.

We’ve written two blog posts on downloading the extension (it’s free) and deciding what labels to use:


Short Landings

The intervening ten years in between census records can seem like a genealogical eternity. Some families can move several times in the intervening gap from one enumeration to another. A family I’m creating a chronology for was in southern Illinois in the late 1840s, northern Illinois during roughly 1851-1855, Kansas in the late 1850s, and likely back in northern Illinois in 1860. A lot can happen during the ten years between enumerations. It can be helpful to look at:

  • property records
  • tax records
  • military pension/benefit records
  • etc.

to try and document the moves. Always consider the possibility that all or some family members may move “home” for a short time, only to leave again.


Can’t Find Your 1850 Ancestor in 1840?

If you cannot find your 1850 ancestor in the 1840 census–and you are certain he’s heading his own household–consider searching for his 1850 neighbors in 1840. Then look at their neighbors in 1840. There is a chance your ancestor is near at least one of his 1850 neighbors in 1840. And there’s also a chance that your ancestor is not the head of their own household in 1840, but is hiding in one of those tick marks for age categories.

And it’s also possible he was overlooked entirely.


Adjacent Deeds?

When you locate one land deed for a relative, always look to see if other deeds by the same buyer or seller were recorded at the same time. Look a few deeds after and before the item you initially located. Sometimes buyers record multiple deeds at the same time, particularly if they live a distance from the courthouse or are buying a piece of property from group of heirs and the deeds were drawn up separately. Look for similar names. You may be surprised at what you discover.

Read more about the example in the illustration.


Land Warrants for Single Sons Who Died in pre-Civil War Wars?

Land warrants may have been issued to the heirs of single men who died in US military action for service prior to the US Civil War. These land warrants may provide significant family clues and help clarify relationships.

The patent in the illustration was issued based on a land warrant that was obtained by Harrison Ramsey based on his son Andrew’s service in the Illinois Volunteers in the 1840s.

The patents can be searched on the BLM site. The warrant applications and surrendered warrants are at the US National Archives.