My Genealogy To-Do List

I have been doing some thinking about my genealogical priorities at this stage of my life. Here’s my personal list:

  • Preserve any photos or other paper ephemera that has not already been preserved.
  • Identify people in photos as much as possible.
  • Document stories I have about any personal family history items (furniture, jewelry, books, recipes, etc.).
  • Write down my own stories and personal memories
  • Write up “solutions” I have to ancestral problems that have not been written up. Preserve those.

Notice that more research is not on this list.

Your list may vary. But consider making a list and working towards accomplishing those tasks.

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One More Obituary?

It’s worth getting every possible obituary of your ancestor for additional clues about their life and family. Other obituaries of Heipke Dirks did not mention the fact that she and her husband bought a farm jointly with two other families in the 1850s near Coatsburg, Illinois.

The statement needs to be verified by local land records. It is possible that the joint purchase referenced in the obituary is not completely correct. Whether it is or not, the names of fellow settlers need to be added to the list of friend, associates, and neighbors of Heipke and her husband.

That “last” obituary may include a detail you’ve not found elsewhere.

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Vacation Clues?

That reference to a family vacation in an old newspaper could be a clue to where missing relatives of the vacationer were living. In this 1951 newspaper reference, the Rampleys had left Illinois to vacation in Minnesota and Kansas. No additional details of their visit are given in the newspaper reference. It is known that two of Rampley’s sisters were living in Minnesota in 1951. While we may wish they had added a simple “to visit his sisters” to the article, that does not always happen. It’s not known why the Rampleys were going to Kansas.

Many vacations were taken partially to see relatives. Whether everyone considers visiting relatives an actual vacation is another matter entirely.

Probates of Neighbors?

For those with rural ancestors, one way to potentially gather a few additional clues about relatives is to search through the probate records of their neighbors.

Your ancestor may have owed their neighbor money, borrowed money from their neighbor, inventoried the estate, purchased items from the estate, or interacted in other ways with the settlement. Those references may not be earth shattering clues.

Or they might be–it all depends on what you don’t know about the ancestor and what information is in the probate.

If nothing else, it can be interesting to discover your relative purchased something at the estate sale and how much they paid for it.

Different Handwriting?

When viewing an original document (or a microfilm or digital copy), do you try and determine if the same person wrote out the entire record? Or does it look like perhaps more than one person wrote on the document? If that’s the case there may have been multiple informants on the record or someone may have written in additional information years later.

All of which impacts how reliable we perceive the information to be.

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Is Social Media Causing you to Fritter Away Genealogy Time?

How much of your “genealogy time” do you spend on social media? Is it helping your research or hindering it. Do you make effective use of social media for your research during your “genealogy time” or are you scrolling through posts and updates that are highly distracting?

For me, the one drawback of being online for research tasks, database use, etc. is that other aspects of the online world are also available. Those aspects can waste time. I find it helpful to turn certain apps, programs, and notifications off. Closing out certain windows can help as well.

It’s great to reach out online for help in understanding and interpreting records, but give a thought to whether the amount of time you are “on” social media is actually beneficial to your research.

Not necessarily a correct answer to this. Just something to think about.

Try a GenealogyBank Genealogy Search to see what you find.

Recording Date Versus Execution Date

The recording date of a document is the date that a copy of the document is filed for record. The execution date is the date the document is signed or actually executed. If you’ve got an extensive series of documents on an individual, order them by execution date–not by recording date. The items may not have been recorded in the order in which they were executed.

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A Son-in-Law Bypass?

In his early 19th century will, a Maryland ancestor appears to disinherit a daughter when he leaves everything to her two children and appoints a guardian for them.

The man writing the will might have not so much been disinheriting the daughter as he was avoiding a son-in-law. In the very early 1800s, when this will was written, a man would be able to exercise control over real property that his wife inherited. By leaving the real estate to his daughter’s children, and appointing a guardian, the testator was providing for the children while circumventing the son-in-law.

And you thought that only people today who had to use creative ways to get around things. 

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Tip of the Day Book

While supplies last, we are offering copies of Genealogy Tip of the Day the book at $17.00. The 286-page book contains an edited version of our earlier tips. We’ve removed repetitive content, promotional items, and “news” that’s no longer news. There’s more information on the book on our website–that page does not have a link to this offer.

This link is the only one that contains an order at this price.

The book’s price ordered directly is $25. The Amazon price is slightly less than that for Prime members.

You can learn more about the book on our website, but this link is the only one that has the discount price.

State Lines Have to be Rivers

The title of this post is not a true statement. But there was a time as a child when I thought it was. I grew up in western Illinois, barely fifteen miles from the Mississippi River and Keokuk, Iowa, which is the southeastern portion of the state. The Mississippi River forms the Illinois-Iowa border. The Des Moines River forms a short portion of the Iowa-Missouri border in that part of the state.

When I was a child, if we went to Iowa we crossed the Mississippi River. If we went to Missouri, we either crossed the Des Moines River or the Mississippi River (depending upon how we travelled). But the thing was, given our always limited travel radius, we always crossed a river to go into a new state.

And so as a small child, I thought all states were like that: you had to cross a river to get to a new state. The first time I travelled to Indiana, it seemed so odd to cross into a new state without crossing a river at the same time. It almost seemed anti-climatic as there was not bridge, no river–just an apparent line in the dirt.

It is easy for any of us to get odd ideas in our head based upon our personal life experiences. Sometimes those odd ideas end up getting incorporated into events that actually happen and a family tradition is born. Sometimes those odd ideas end up being assumptions that impact our genealogical research. Either way, those odd ideas can present stumbling blocks in our research.

But sometimes there is a reason behind those odd ideas. Sometimes that is worth finding as well.

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