Is It Worth the Time to Find It?

Are you spending too much time looking for a specific record that might not really even help your research all that much? There’s a couple for whom I cannot find their mid-1800 passenger list entry. After some thought, I’m not really certain I need it. I have a good idea of where the family is from in Europe as I know where the husband’s brother was born. I know what children the couple had and where they settled. The mid-1800 passenger list probably isn’t going to tell me where they were from. And after having spent several hours trying to find them, it may be best to work on locating other records. Sometimes it is necessary to realize that it may be time to work on other things.

You can always go back later and try looking for it again. And some other record you locate may help you to find what you originally thought you could not.


Only Children with no Descendants

Only children with no descendants can leave interesting estate settlements, especially if they die with enough property to require probate and neglect to leave a valid will. Their property typically will be distributed to their first cousins, or depending upon the family structure, even more distant relatives. The records of that estate settlement could be a gold mine. Do you have a cousin who died in this situation? It may be worth your time to search for their estate records


Search Reminders from a 1935 Marriage

This newspaper clipping, from the Mendon [Illinois] Dispatch of December 1935, reminded me of some issues when searching newspapers–especially when they are in digital format. In this case, it was the typos and errors that made several key points. This clipping was located the old fashioned way though–a manual search based upon my grandparents date of marriage and where they were living at the time of their marriage.


Grandma’s maiden name was actually Trautvetter. For some reason it is spelled “Trautretter” throughout the announcement. Soundex searches will not catch the reference and other search formulations might not either, depending upon how they are constructed.

The Headline

The last name of the groom, Neill, is spelled correctly throughout the announcement. However, there is a blob over part of the name in the headline. If the headline had been the only location where the last name of Neill appeared, searches based upon that name might not have located the reference.

Still-well or Stillwell?

There is a dash in the name of “Stillwell” in the last reference to it in the announcement. Why eludes me, but again that dash (or hyphen) might cause searches for just the name of the town to not locate the reference if only the hyphenated version has been used.


It is actually Keithsburg. Easily a typo.

Fortunately the dates and other details in the document are correct, based upon the actual record of the marriage. But it never hurts to keep some of these things in mind when searching digital versions of newspapers.


Dower versus Dowry

Generally speaking…

“Dower” is the interest a wife has in her husband’s real or personal property. Depending upon the time period and location, it may be a 1/3 interest, a life estate, etc.

A “dowry” is the money/goods, etc. that a woman brings into a marriage.


Widow Might Not Be Children’s Mother

The widow of a deceased man might not be the mother of his children. She could be the mother of all of them, some of them, or none of them. Use other records to see if you can draw conclusions. Use the information as clues, but don’t assume that the widow was the mother of all the children just based upon that one document if the relationship is not clearly stated.


Administrator with the Will Annexed

For reasons that are not clear, the will of Mimken Habben failed to nominate an executor in 1876. After his death a year later, the will was approved and his widow was appointed administrator with the will annexed. The difference usually is in title only–the job’s pretty much the same as an executor.

In other cases an executor named in a will refuses to act or is unable to act. In those situations an administrator with the will annexed is named as well.


Unusual Combinations May Just Be a Fluke

Don’t assume that just because the names are “close” that they have to be a match. I was looking for information on a William Bell who married a Martha Sargent in Iowa. Turns out there was another William Bell in the same part of Iowa who married a Lorinda Sargent. Totally two separate couples from two separate families. How many William Bells can marry a Sargent and live a few counties away from each other? Apparently two. Two distinct ones.Remember that sometimes there is a relationship and sometimes there is not.


The Identify of the Identifier

reprinted from our old blog
Don’t forget to identify (if possible) the person who identified the photos by trying to determine whose writing it is.

It’s always good to know (if you can) the identifier of the people in the photos.

Fortunately I know who wrote on the back of this picture. Sometimes we can’t determine that.