The Relict Inherited Relics

The word “relict” typically refers to the widow of a deceased person. If Hinrich and Johanna were married and Hinrich dies, Johanna is his relict. The word is not used today as “widow” tends to be preferred. Relic–as in old item surviving from an earlier time–has the same root as relict.

There’s usually no specific significance to the word “relict” and it’s use does not mean there were former spouses of the deceased who also survived him.

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Evaluate the Harvest

Regularly evaluate the information you locate. Compare it with what is known about the ancestor or family in question. Do things make sense? Is information relatively consistent? Is the person performing acts at a reasonable time in their life? Are people moving too frequently? Does the migration path seem reasonable (or if not, can you find a reason)?

Don’t just gather without evaluating. Don’t move backwards to earlier generations until you’ve confirmed relationships in more recent generations.

A Religious Chronology

If your ancestor was not a cradle-to-grave member of the same church or denomination, have you created a chronology or time-line of when your ancestor was a member of what church/denomination?

If your ancestor was a cradle-to-grave Methodist and moved frequently, do you know where she attended church in each of those locations? Have you found out where those records are? Have you accessed them? Even your ancestor was born, lived, and died in the same home and never changed denominations, they may have attended more than one church for a variety of reasons.

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Estate Payments

A list of amounts paid to settle an estate can tell you more than who the heirs or beneficiaries were. Those payments can tell you to whom your ancestor owed money, with whom he did business, where the funeral was held, what church he went to, what general store he purchased items from (perhaps even some items purchased), and more. Make certain you have fully analyzed those payments for clues about your ancestor.

Seed Corn Pencils are Pencils

I referred to them as “seed corn pencils” and did not think twice about it.

They are pencils that were used to advertise seed corn my great-grandfather sold in the mid-20th century. To me the reference needed no further explanation. But I discovered that I am not everyone and that not everyone has my experience. I grew up on a grain and livestock farm in the American Midwest in the 1970s/1980s. I’ve know what “seed corn” is for a very long time: it’s corn that is used for seed–for planting.

But not everyone has that background and when I referred to my great-grandfather’s pencils as “seed corn pencils” others did not understand the reference and thought they were some odd sort of pencils that somehow involved “seed corn.” They are regular old writing pencils. They are unused because my great-grandmother kept a large number of them that were found when she passed away. They write like regular pencils–when sharpened.

They were just used for advertising.

But I was reminded that it is good to always explain things clearly as not everyone has the same background and experience that I do. I need to be aware of that when writing and communicating. That’s true for all of us. It is also something we have to remember when reading and interpreting records used for genealogy–there may be phrases that do not mean exactly what we think they mean.

Read What it Actually Says

In the 19 January 1973 issue of the Galesburg Register-Mail a request is made for information on missing graduates of the 1923 class of Galesburg High School. One of the names is Pearl Trask.

The database entry for this Pearl Trask indicates that this means that Pearl Trask lived in Galesburg on the date of the newspaper. While it is possible she lived in Galesburg in 1973, what is certain is that the reference is indicating that a Pearl Trask graduated from Galesburg High School in 1923. It is possible she lived in Galesburg in 1973, but somewhat doubtful given the size of the town and the fact that the upcoming reunion was from a Galesburg High School class.

Always check the original and make certain the interpretation is supported by the evidence.

Who Is Your Brother?

Keep in mind that there are some relationships stated in records that, after some research is conducted, are not as clear as we would like them to be.

“Brothers” could be full brothers or half-brothers. One of the siblings could have been an adopted sibling.

They could also be step-brothers or brothers-in-law.

A Map as a Research Log

When a manual search of census records is necessary, use a map.

A map will help you keep a geographic perspective when searching and help guide you in knowing where to search if your ancestors are not initially where they are expected to be. The map can also be used to keep track of where searches have been conducted.

The ideal map to use would be one that that shows the same enumeration regions that were used in the census. For censuses taken 1880 and after, these enumeration districts had maps created for the sole purpose of census enumeration and sometimes those districts had boundaries that followed civil government boundaries. These enumeration district maps are online at the National Archives and Records Administration website. For enumerations before 1880, enumeration regions also often followed governmental boundaries and contemporary maps are helpful for those searches as well.

Church Directories for Clues?

I had always known my mother lived with her grandmother between hr graduation from college and her marriage to my father. But if I had not, the 1966 annual church report from the church my mother and her grandmother had attended would have indicated they lived together for a time. Miss Constance Ufkes is listed at the same address as Mrs. Fred Ufkes. The relationship is not stated as it is for some in the directory.

These directories can contain other clues as well–particularly addresses for church members who had moved away temporarily for school or military service. The directory may provide their school address or military rank and address.

The difficulty is in locating these items. The church may have them. Local libraries or historical societies may have them as well. They also may show up for sale on Ebay.