Author Archives: michaeljohnneill

About michaeljohnneill

Genealogy author and speaker.

Why Don’t Those DNA Matches “Share Names” With Me?

If you are fortunate enough for a DNA match to have a family tree associated with it, there are several reasons why there are no name “matches” between your trees, including the following:

  • one of you does not have the tree back far enough to see the match
  • one (or both of you) has a mistake in your tree that is only compounded as the lineage is extended
  • there was an adoption in your lineage that no one told anyone about
  • the stated father of a child was not the biological father

Sifting through these possibilities takes time and may require more extensive research.

Sanborn Maps Might Give Old Street Names

Researchers in need of former street names in the United States may wish to look at fire insurance maps. This 1893 map of the courthouse square in Carthage, Illinois, indicated that all four streets surrounding the courthouse were named “Main Street” (with a direction as a part of the name). Today the former “North Main Street” is Main Street. The others have been renamed.

Did That Place Name Change?

It is possible that the place you can’t find is no longer known by that name? Sometimes the names of places are changed–for a variety of reasons. And it’s possible that the “place name” you were given is a nickname of sorts that was only used by a few locals.

I know where the Habben corner is in Hancock County, Illinois, but hardly anyone refers to it by that name today. It’s not on any maps, but may be mentioned in an old newspaper or other published account.

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank.

Did the Fire Really Burn It All?

Don’t take “the courthouse burned” to mean that every record before that point in time was destroyed.

It might be that in reality, records from some offices survived, some offices’ records were not completely destroyed, etc. In some cases, records might have been “re-recorded” after the fire. There may also be state or federal records that provide similar information. Ask around.

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank.

Is There a Hidden Wife?

If all records indicate the wife of your ancestor is “Mary,” keep yourself open to the possibility that the ancestor could have been married twice to women with the same first name. If other details about the Marys are very inconsistent, it could be that there were two Marys instead of one.

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank.

Map It

Put all your ancestor’s residences on the same map. Compare it to your chronology. Is there a chance they might have stopped somewhere “in between” two places and left records of some type? If the locations are urban with street addresses, make certain you have maps that are contemporary to your problem.

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank.