Author Archives: michaeljohnneill

About michaeljohnneill

Genealogy author and speaker.

Assuming It Is the One Nearby

It was an honest mistake, but it makes a good point.

My aunt moved several states away from her childhood home, but was buried “back home” with her parents in the “MapleGrove Cemetery.” The obituary for her in her local newspaper only indicated she was to be buried in the MapleGrove Cemetery.  No city or state of burial was listed.

A researcher saw the obituary and assumed that my aunt was buried in the nearest MapleGrove Cemetery she could find–in the state where my aunt died, not where she was buried. This cemetery was actually a hundred miles from where my aunt died, but in the same state–it was not within a few miles of her home.

Sometimes papers leave out “obvious” details. Sometimes they simply leave out important details.

Never add something to a document or record that is not there. Transcribe as it.

I’ve changed a few details to protect the innocent, but the essence of this story is true.

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Ninety Percent Correct Does Not Mean 100% Correct

Even if the essence of a document is true, it can still contain errors. Just because an item seems to have every detail correct,
there may still be factual or typographical errors. This 1932 obituary contains two minor errors–the age at death and the year of the marriage. The date of birth is consistent with other records (there is no birth record or family bible entry for her birth) and the date of death agrees with the death certificate.

Don’t assume that everything is right just because 90% of it is.

At least they used her name and didn’t just call her “Grandma.”

Five-Year Gap?

Review the chronology of all the records you have on a relative. Is there a five year gap when you have no record on the ancestor and don’t have indirect evidence that he never moved during that time? Is it possible that he moved during that gap in time to another place where he might have left records that have not been located?

Gaps in chronologies should always be investigated–just in case. The ancestor may never have left his residence, but you won’t know until you look.

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Try their “GenealogyBank Search” and see what discoveries you make.

Did He Really Die?

Virtually every published source on Clark Sargent indicates that he died in 1847 or 1848 in Winnebago County, Illinois. The date appears in numerous online trees. It’s difficult to tell what late nineteenth century source is the “original” one that first published that date, but it seems reasonable that it was copied and repeated. It has made its way into numerous online trees.

Clark owned a small piece of property that’s sold in the early 1850s by his wife and her second husband. There is no estate settlement for him. There’s no guardianship for his children. It’s too early for a death record in Illinois. There is no extant tombstone. It is almost as he didn’t die in the late 1840s.

His daughter Emmar (Sargent) Osenbaugh indicated in a 1918  Civil War pension affidavit that her father left the family without ever being heard from again and that a few years later her mother married again.  She would have been old enough to have remembered him not coming back and lying about it would have served no purpose in the affidavit. So maybe he really did just run off.

At least it gives me something to think about.


Change to Daily Tip Distribution–Please Read

We have had some issues with the daily email of Genealogy Tip of the Day and are going to a different free service to send the tips out every day. This new system (through Google although you don’t need a Google account)also allows for better individual management of email subscriptions.

This link allows you to add your name to our new list.The old service will not be supported beginning early the week of 15 May 2017.

You will need to respond to a confirmation email that you will receive after you submit your request.
You will not be added to the list until you do that.


The Importance of Everything…

The pension file for Civil War widow Nancy Rampley is rather large and contains numerous applications and appeals. For that reason, many of the petitions are repetitive.

That’s good.

In one application for a pension Nancy indicated that she was “married at my father’s house.” In another she indicated she was married at “William Newmans.”

Had I only read one of these I would have missed the connection.

Even when documents seem repetitive to the point of being excessive, read them all. There may be a clue in there if you look deeply enough.