Casefile Clues

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Casefile Clues--my how to genealogy newsletter is distributed as a PDF file. Scroll down on this page to view a complete topic listing.



  •  Issue 1- A Method to the Madness: Starting A Search for William Rhodus. Beginning a search on a man whose first “known” document is an 1860 marriage record in Missouri.
  •  Issue 2-“Know” Objection That I Know Of: Letters of Consent and a Bond from a 1798 Marriage. This column analyzes a set of marriage consents from the marriage of Thomas Sledd and Sally Tinsley in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1798.
  •  Issue 3-Thomas and Elizabeth Frame: Arriving Outside the Time Frame. This column discusses establishing an immigration framework for an English immigrant family to American in the 1860s.
  •   Issue 4-An 1873 Chicago Naturalization: Two Thomases to Confuse. This column looks at the 1873 naturalization of Thomas Frame from Cook County, Illinois
  •  Issue 5-Copied from the Ashes: The 1850 Declaration of Peter Bigger. This column looks at a declaration of intent to become a citizen from Hamilton County, Ohio, that was recreated or copied from the partially burned one.
  • Issue 6-A Venture into Harford County: A 1790-Era Grant and Deed. This column looks at two land records from Harford County, Maryland, the patent to James Rampley and the subsequent deed of sale for part of that property about a year later.
  • Issue 7-Potatoes Not Worth Digging: The 1863 Personal Inventory of Paul Freund. This column analyzes an 1863 estate inventory from Davenport, Iowa, paying particular attention to clues that might provide details about Paul’s occupation and origin.
  •   Issue 8-We Were at the Wedding: A Civil War Pension Affidavit. This column looks at an affidavit made out in California in the early 1900s regarding a marriage that took place in Michigan nearly fifty ears earlier. Accuracy of information along with research suggestions are included.
  • Issue 9-Finding William and Rebecca in 1840. Discusses a search for a couple in their first census enumeration as man and wife.
  • Issue 10-More Brick Walls From A to Z. Another installment in our popular series of brick wall techniques from A to Z.
  • Issue 11-Mulling Over a Deposition: Testifying For a Fifty-Year Neighbor. This column analyzes a deposition made in  Revolutionary War pension case where the deponent has known the applicant for fifty years. Plenty of clues and leads to analyze in this document.
  • Issue 12-An 1836 Kentucky Will. This column includes a transcription and an analysis of an 1836 Kentucky will.
  • Issue 13-An 1815 Marriage: Augusta Newman and Belinda Sledd. This column analyzes a marriage register entry and marriage bond for this couple in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
  • Issue 14-Going Back: James and Elizabeth Rampley in 1850. This 1850 census enumeration is completely analyzed for clues on this apparently well-documented family.
  • Issue 15-Selling My Part of My Father’s Farm: An 1820 Deed From Maryland. This column looks at a Harford County, Maryland, deed where Thomas Rampley transfers his ownership in his father’s farm to his brother. The relationship is not stated in the document, but all clues are completely analyzed and research suggestions given.
  • Issue 16-At the Baby’s Birth in 1859. This column looks at a proof of birth for an 1859 birth as given in a Civil War children’s pension file.
  • Issue 17-Dead or Alive: G. W. Garrett?  This column looks at a transcription of a guardianship order contained in a Union Civil War pension application. The document is somewhat unclear and indicates that further research is necessary.
  • Issue 18-From a Life Estate to a Fee Simple. This column looks at an 1880 era deed that essentially converts a wife’s life estate in a ten acre parcel into one that is a fee simple title. Of course, the deed does not explicitly state that.
  • Issue 19-An Estate of Inheritance: Benjamin Sells His Forty. This column looks at an 1840 era deed from Michigan. Interpreting boilerplate text must be done with care. Benjamin left few records about his origins and this one is maximized for all the clues it contains.
  • Issue 20-Giving Up Germany: An 1855 Declaration of Intent. This column looks at an 1855 declaration of intent for George Trautvetter–what it says about him and what it does not.
  • Issue 21-Analyzed in Isolation: An 1855 Guardianship Appointment. This column looks at an 1855 guardianship appointment from Scott County, Iowa.
  • Issue 22-Get Off My Rented Ground: An 1812 Ejectment Survey. A Bourbon County, Kentucky survey that was the result of a court case.
  •  Issue 23-Our Daughter Can Get Hitched: An 1868 Marriage. A underaged bride never goes to the courthouse with her intended to get the license.
  •  Issue 24: About My Husband: Cook County Divorce Statements. This issue takes a look at several statements made in an early 20th century divorce in Cook County, Illinois.
  •  Issue 25-Giving Grandma My Claim. A homestead claim is transferred from a twenty-something female to her aged grandmother in response to a neighbor’s petition.
  •  Issue 26-Contingent Life Estates: the 1912 Will of James Rampley. This will provided for a contingent life estate to one of Rampley’s heirs.
  •  Issue 27-My Grandpa Owned this Farm: The 1942 Affidavit of James Rampley. This statement made in the 1940s documented land ownership for approximately one hundred years earlier.
  •  Issue 28-Too Many Margarets: The 1850and 1860 Census Enumerations of Michael Trautvetter. This issue looks at some confusing census enumerations from Campbell County, Kentucky.
  • Issue 29-The Straw Man: Thomas Tipton in the Credit Under File of James Shores. This issue looks at a file for a credit under purchase of federal land where a straw man was used to complete the transcation.
  • Issue 30-A Year to File: the Death Certificate of Lucinda Kile. This issue takes a look at a death certificate that was filed nearly a year after Lucinda Kile died in Mercer County, Illinois in the 1870s.
  •  Issue 31-Two Sentences: the 1902 Will of August Mortier. This issue takes a look at a two-sentence will from 1902. There’s always more to things than meets the eye.
  •  Issue 32-One Fifth to You: A “Son” Sells His Part. A deed from Nicholas County, Kentucky, where a man styled as the “son” of the deceased sells his interest in the family farm.
  • Issue 33- Why Do I Get 9/567th of Grandpa’s Farm: Fun With Fractions. This issue of Casefile Clues explains how one heir received 9/567th of his grandfather’s farm. It’s not quite as straight forward as you may think.
  •  Issue 34- The Cawiezells Come to Davenport: Estimating Immigration Information. This issues uses census information to formulate an immigrant search strategy for a Swiss family.
  •  Issue 35- Mastering Deeds: Samuel’s Heirs Go to Court. A family fights over their deceased father’s farm resulting in a judge issuing a deed for the property.
  •  Issue 36-M is for Melburn: An 1879 Birth Certificate. Completely analyzing a birth certificate where the middle name’s significance is still not understood.
  •  Issue 37-The Clerk Can’t Find What Is Right There: An 1851 Marriage in St. Louis. A marriage record in St. Louis that the records clerk was unable to locate in the 1890s because he failed to look page by page.
  • Issue 38-My Sun May Marry: Two Kentucky Marriage Bonds. This issue takes a look at two marriage bonds from early 19th century Kentucky where the witness was the real person of interest.
  • Issue 39-Tonyes or Tonjes: A Minor Naturalization from 1889. This issue looks at a minor naturalization from 1889 that provides clues about the witness as well as the individual being naturalized.
  • Issue 40-The Power of Ten Kiles: An 1853 Power-of-Attorney–a power-of-attorney signed by ten male heirs of the War of 1812 veteran is discussed and analyzed.
  • Issue 41-Give Me My Bounty Land:The 1851 Petition of Veteran James Kile–A War of 1812 veteran’s bounty land petition is analyzed.
  • Issue 42-“I no I was quainted with them:” An 1848 Pension Deposition–a deposition in a Revolutionary War widow’s claim is discussed.
  • Issue 43-Mortgaging My 1/10 Interest: A 1905 Mortgage–a 1905 mortgage where only 1/10th of the property is mortgaged is analyzed and discussed.
  • Issue 44-All Belinda’s Children: David Newman Makes A Statement–an heirship document from Iowa in the 1860s is analyzed
  • Issue 45-My Brother Told Me a House Burned: A War of 1812 Pension Statement–An affidavit made in the 1850s for the war veteran is discussed and analyzed.

Year 2 Issues Of Casefile Clues–

  • Volume 2-Number 1–Problem-Solving–a variety of techniques for breaking through those brick walls.
  • Volume 2-Number 2–A 1907 Committal–An insanity record.
  • Volume 2-Number 3–A 1921 Divorce–looking at a 1921 era divorce from Chicago
  • Volume 2-Number 4–Leaving John’s Hands: Documenting Post-Death Land Transfers
  • Volume 2-Number 5–The Acquisition of John Michael Trautvetter’s 228 Acres
  • Volume 2-Number 6–The Original Versus the Record Copy
  • Volume 2-Number 7–Multiple Marriage Mayhem:
    Starting the Search for Emma (Sargent) Pollard Ross Oades Pollard Snavly Olenbaugh
  • Volume 2-Number 8–A Handful of Problem-Solving Strategies
  • Volume 2-Number 9–Two-Thirds of an Acre from Uncle John: A Partition Suit Proves a Sibling Relationship
  • Volume 2-Number 10–A Minimal Estate Gives Some Direction: The 1886-1888 Probate of Benjamin Butler
  • Volume 2-Number 11–Signing What We Could Not Read–immigrants unable to read English sign a 1870 era document that is incorrect and a lawsuit results.
  • Volume 2-Number 12–Dad Raised my Daughter–A newspaper account of a court case in the 1880s discusses an early 1870 out-of-wedlock birth.
  • Volume 2-Number 13–Using the 1860 Census to Formulate a Passenger List Search Strategy
  • Volume 2-Number 14–Search Strategy for Benjmamin Butler in pre-1870 Census Records–this looks at ways to find the missing 1850 and 1860 census enumerations for man who “appears” in Iowa in 1870.
  • Volume 2-Number 15–Pre-1850 Census–analyzing 1810-1840 census entries for Thomas Chaney in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
  • Volume 2-Number 16–Names in the Probate–analyzing various names in a probate settlement from 1903. Nicknames and diminutives were part of the problem.
  • Volume 2-Number 17–Bridging a Twenty-Year Census Gap-1870 to 1860. Showing that an 1870 Iowa, 1880 Missouri, and an 1850 Michigan enumeration are for the same man.
  • Volume 2-Number 18–Four Passports and a Foreign Death: George Washington Drollette. Analyzes four early 20th century passports and a US State Department death report from 1933.
  • Volume 2-Number 19–Diplomatic Employment Applications. Analyzes and summaries letters of support for employment with the US State Department between 1901-1906.
  • Volume 2-Number 20–Just One Wife Who Shaves Her Age. Records hinted that a man might have had more than one wife. Despite age discrepancies and first name variations, we’ve likely proven that there was just one wife.
  • Volume 2-Number 21–1930 Census: Primary, Secondary, Original, Derivative, Direct and Indirect. You’ll never look at a census entry the same way again-also shows how in this case, New York became Kentucky
  • Volume 2-Number 22–Finding the Biegers in 1850. Organizing our search and our negative search results in an attempt to find a German immigrant living in Cincinnati in 1850.
  • Volume 2-Number 23–Separating Two George Butlers–working on two men born in Michigan in the same year with a father of the same name.
  • Volume 2-Number 24-A Minor Naturalization
  • Volume 2-Number 25-Genealogical Potpourri
  • Volume 2-Number 26-Looking for Benjamin-Formulating a Census Search
  • Volume 2-Number 27-An 1849 Cash Land Sale
  • Volume 2-Number 28-From 1820-1870 Analyzing Enoch Tinsley’s Census Entries
  • Volume 2-Number 29-Middle Name Issues: Finding Henry J. Fecht in 1870 and Passenger Lists
  • Volume 2-Number 30-The Master Reports–An Assignment of Homestead and Dower in the 1890s
  • Volume 2-Number 31-The Parents Sell 10 Acres-an 1880 era land transaction
  • Volume 2-Number 32-Clues from a Pig Murder–an 1820 era Kentucky Court Case
  • Volume 2-Number 33-Civil War Pension Application-Why My Name’s Different
  • Volume 2-Number 34-Staying Focused on Divorces and a German Immigrant
  • Volume 2-Number 35-Strategies for a 1820 New York Birth
  • Volume 2-Number 36-First Appearing in an 1847 Marriage
  • Volume 2-Number 37-The Chattel Property Will from Maryland
  • Volume 2-Number 38-Emmar Osenbaugh Civil War Pension-Proving 6 Husbands(1st Part)
  • Volume 2-Number 39-1870-1880 Era Guardianship Proves All the Children
  • Volume 2-Number 40-Moving Mother-Transferring a Life Estate in 1769
  • Volume 2-Number 41-War of 1812 Bounty Land Application and Surrendered Warrant
  • Volume 2-Number 42–An 1875 Poor Farm Admission for the Smith Family
  • Volume 2-Number 43-An 1811 Tennessee Will
  • Volume 2-Number 44-More Problem-Solving
  • Volume 2-Number 45-Emmar Osenbaugh’s Civil War Pension Part II
  • Volume 2-Number 46-Comments on 1856 Missouri Revised Statutes
  • Volume 2-Number 47-A Will Denied–and Why
  • Volume 2-Number 48-Blank Children and Three Completers on a Birth Record
  • Volume 2-Number 49-Petitioning to Administrate an Intestate Probate in 1869
  • Volume 2-Number 50-Fighting the Will of Trientje Sartorius
  • Volume 2-Number 51-With Little to Probate: The Estate of Wesley Jones
  • Volume 2-Number 52-Iam What I Am: An 1860 Census Enumeration

Year 1 Issue Topics


  • 52–Benjamin Butler in 1880 and 1870–correlating an 1880 and 1870 census enumeration when the head of household has a different first name
  • 51–Clarifying Clara–a widow’s War of 1812 Bounty Land application
  • 50–Special Examiner’s Report–Discussion of testimony taken by a Special Examiner in a Union Civil War Pension File
  • 49–Levi Rhodes’ War of 1812 Pension–A discussion and and an analysis of a War of 1812 pension issued in 1871.
  • 48–Determining Your Own Chain of Migration–Ways to determine the unique migration chain that your ancestor took
  • 47–Finding the Ellen–Finding someone in an 1870 census when she’s a child and I don’t have the names of the parents. Discusses proximity searches, eliminating false matches, etc.
  • 46–Ira Located–the correct marriage record for Ira Sargent was located. This issue includes the image and a complete transcription, an analysis, additional searches that were conducted, and where to go next.
  • 45–Organizing My Search for Ira–discusses brainstorming to locate the parents of Ira Sargent, how and why records were prioritized, and how records would be searched.
  • 44–Philip Troutfetter in the Special Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society–fraud, postal investigations, and abandoned wives–all from one relative.
  • 43–Unacquiring Property–ways your ancestor might have “disposed” of his real estate.
  • 42–Multiple Johns–two brothers with the exact same name–apparently.
  • 41–Brick Walls from A to Z–the title says it all–ideas for breaking those brick walls
  • 40–Finding John–analysis, including charts and maps, in an attempt to find a missing 1870 census enumeration.
  • 39–Multiple Marias--Analyzing more than one 1893 obituary for a Swiss immigrant in Iowa.
  • 38–From their Mouth to Your Screen. Discusses all the “filters” information passes through.
  • 37–Pullman Car Company Employment Records. Discusses several employment records from the Pullman Car Company in Chicago. Discusses William Apgar, Thomas Frame, Louis DeMar.
  • 36–Where are they in 1840? Analyzes an individual who is “missing” from an 1840 census. Includes a discussion of how he was “found” and how land records actually solved the problem. Discusses Abraham Wickiser.
  • 35–A 1910 Birth. Analyzes primary and secondary sources for a date and place of birth in 1910 and how differences might not be all that different. Discusses Ida Trautvetter.
  • 34–Ready to Go? Discusses some things to contemplate regarding your genealogy material before you die.
  • 33–Where there is a Will there is Confusion. Analyzes an early 19th century will from Maryland and what the different bequests likely mean and what potentially brought them about. Also discusses different ways some things can be interpreted. Discusses John DeMoss.
  • 32–When There is No Probate. Some things to think about when there is no probate file.
  • 31–Analyzing the Mortgage. Discusses an 1870 era mortgage in Illinois. Discusses John Ufkes and Rolf Habben.
  • 30–Behind the Scenes Chaos. Discusses the importance of thinking about what “caused” a record to be recorded.
  • 29–Un-American Activity. Discusses an invesigation by the fore-runner of the FBI into a German-American family in World War I. Discusses the Fecht family.
  • 28–Do You Ear What I Ear? Discusses things to remember about how things are heard.
  • 27–Analyzing Andrew Trask. Discusses work on an Mass. native (born ca. 1814) who lived in St. Louis, southern-Illinois, and western Illinois where he died in the 1880s. Focuses on analyzing and working on later records to discern patterns, etc. Discusses Andrew Trask.
  • 26–Using Google Books.
  • 25–Finding Valentine. Steps in locating a man whose only real mention is in an 1870 era estate settlement. Discusses how I organized my search for him.
  • 24–The Brick Wall is in Your Head. Talks about ways you may have made your own genealogical brick wall.
  • 23–You Ask and I Wonder. Things that pop in my head when a person asks a certain genealogical question.
  • 22–Crossing the Pond.
  • 21–One Clipping Leads to More.
  • 20–Organizing 1870 Census Search–thoughts on organizing online census searches.
  • 19–Public Sale–Analyzing an old sale bill.
  • 18–Analyzing the Biography–Charting and Organizing what You Know Using a Biography
  • 17–Working with the Professional. Getting started with the professional genealogist who is performing Chicago area work for me.
  • 16–A Lot from Barbara’s Lot. Clues from a series of records on a small lot in a town in rural Illinois betwen 1856 and 1905.
  • 15–Finding Gesche’s Girls. Tracking down an “evaporating” German native who “condensed” somewhere in the United States.
  • 14–Jumpstarting Your Research. Just some ideas to get you started.
  • 13–Brick Walls and the Census Taker
  • 12–The Heirs Complete the Homestead
  • 11–Is the Wrong Name Correct?
  • 10–Connecting the Iras. Working to determine if two men of the same name are the same man.
  • 09–Pre-1850 Census Analysis. Analzing pre-1850 census records for a family to determine the household structure. Discusses Thomas and Sarah Sledd.
  • 08–Platting Out Thomas Sledd’s Heirs. Platting out the estate division of the Thomas Sledd estate in Kentucky in the 1830s. Discusses Thomas Sledd family.
  • 07–Looking for Ira’s Lucretia. Working on my “brick wall” Ira through his sister Lucretia. mid-to-late nineteenth century work.
  • 06–The Civil War Pension file of Riley Rampley. An overview of a Union Civil War pension record.
  • 05–Finding a Chicago Christening. How a 1913 era Chicago christening record was found. Discusses Anna Apgar.
  • 04–Multiple Parents
  • 03–Preemption Claim. The Missouri pre-emption land claim of John Lake. Discusses John Lake.
  • 02–Passport Records. Discusses an early twentieth century passport application. Discusses Robert Frame.
  • 01–Lessons from an Estate Record. Analyzes an 1870 era Illinois set of estate records.Purchase:

5 thoughts on “Casefile Clues

  1. Bonnie Burkhardt

    What happened to the next year of Casefile Clues? I assume it is year 4? I subscribed in Aug 2015 and haven’t heard a thing; only a note from you when I inquired earlier asking where they were and you assured me that they were on their way…prob. 2 months ago.

    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      I’m working on the next several issues now and they are slated to start going out early next week. If you don’t start receiving them by the 19th, please let me know at or comment here. Thanks.


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