Author Archives: michaeljohnneill

About michaeljohnneill

Genealogy author and speaker.

Give the Deed Some Consideration

When using land records, always note the consideration listed on the document in addition to the real property being transferred. The “consideration” was what was given in exchange for real property. Token amounts may suggest a relationship between the parties. Small consideration amounts compared to other deeds for similar properties may also suggest a connection between the parties involved. 

That Tip Didn’t Work For Me!

Research tips that suggest a procedure, an approach, or a process are just that: suggestions. One tip will not solve every problem in every location. What works in one place at one time period may not be appropriate in another place at another time.

If one idea does not work, try something else. Or ask yourself why the tip might not apply to your specific situation. That may get you thinking of something that does apply to your situation. Or let another researcher know what you tried and that it didn’t work–they may have another suggestion.

Or work on an entirely different family for a while. Sometimes a short break works wonders.

Check out GenealogyBank’s latest offer for our readers!

FamilyTreeDNA Webinar Released

FamilyTreeDNA Beginnings

Already Held


This presentation will discuss the basics of the “Family Finder” on the FamilyTreeDNA website. You can upload autosomal test results from other companies for use and comparison with other matches at FamilyTreeDNA. This presentation will discuss:

  • working with matches
  • filters this site gives users and ways to use those filters
  • chromosome browsing
  • downloading results–all results and filtered results
  • what to include in your optional GEDCOM file upload and reasons to upload it

Order immediate download. If you pre-registered or pre-ordered and need the download, contact me using the email address in your receipt. This link will not process pre-orders.


Locating a Death With Google

A Google search for the location where someone died (and their residence at death) may locate significant information. Do not limit yourself to maps in an attempt to find “what’s there today.” There may be other text-based search results that are helpful as well.

Those of us with rural ancestors won’t usually have an address to put into Google–most of my own ancestors’ death records are only as specific as the township of death.

Check out GenealogyBank’s latest offer for our readers!

How Were the Originals Organized?

Many indexes do not include every name, indexes can contain errors, and some records are completely unindexed. No matter the situation, there are times when the researcher needs to undertake a manual, page-by-page search. The questions to ask are:

How are the original records organized? Is it by:

  • date of the event or document–sometimes this is known, sometimes it is not
  • date the item was recorded–often not known–but it is after the event took place
  • the person’s residence, burial spot, or other geographic location–sometimes known, but not always
  • military unit or some other assigned number–can be difficult to know, is there some other record that provides this information?
  • something else–variability here

To find the person in the desired record, it may be necessary to look at other records (organized differently) that may provide the needed information to search the desired record manually. A city directory may provide an address for use in census searches. A family bible may provide a death date to use in searching death records.

Indexes won’t find everyone, but doing some homework before starting a page-by-page search can save you some time. Sometimes.

Don’t miss GenealogyBank’s latest offer for our readers!

Learn more about genealogical problem solving in one of my webinars.

Interment Versus Internment

One letter makes a difference. This is one that spell check will not catch. Old-fashioned proofreading is what it takes. There is a difference between “interment” and “internment.”

  • interment–the burial of a corpse
  • internment–the state of being confined as a prisoner

In a recent blog post, I slipped and used the wrong one. By the time I realized it, the post had permeated the internet.

That little “n” matters.

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Three Reminders from Antje’s Hitching

There are several quick tips from this 1863 marriage from Adams County, Illinois:

  • don’t crop so close that you omit key details–the month and year don’t show in my image (they are at the very top of the page)
  • don’t assume that there wasn’t a marriage after a “long-term” spouse died–I almost overlooked this reference to Antje for that reason
  • Google that minister–a Google search for “tjaden minister adams county” directed to me where he probably was a pastor (and that was just a start in finding where he was affiliated in 1863)

Antje moved around. In 1880 she was in Denver, Colorado, and she eventually died in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

200B For the Cause of Death Does Not Mean Death by 200 Bees

Modern United States certificates often have code numbers that are specific to the cause of death. In some cases they may provide additional information or be more specific than the listed cause. This 1938 death certificate’s code of 200b pretty much means the person dropped dead.

The International List of Causes of Death has been revised several times and can be seen online. Make certain you are using the correct year as the codes have been modified over time.