Category Archives: Uncategorized

Official Does not mean Accurate

Just because a record is “official” does not mean that every detail it contains is correct. A death certificate probably has the date of death and burial correct, but the date and place of birth could easily be incorrect. And there is always the chance that a death record has the wrong date of death or place of burial. An official record does not guarantee the information is accurate. Remember that in most records, the information is only as accurate as the informant and that in most records information submitted came from someone’s mind and was not verified with another source or official record.

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Assumptions and What You Don’t Know

Recent research reminded me of the importance of recognizing assumptions and validating what you “think you know.”

I knew cousin William Ehmen was a Lutheran minister in Nebraska in the 1880s. I just assumed that he attended seminary as “a young men” before he was married.  Wrong. He did not go to seminary until he was in his late twenties, had been married for seven years, and was already a father. 

He worked for the railroad for a time in Illinois and I learned he had lived in Mendota for a while–I assumed it was because he was working there for the railroad. No. He was attending seminary at what is now Wartburg College in Iowa. In the 1870s it was located in Mendota, Illinois.

I didn’t know that either.

I knew a few things about William and assumed the chronology. That was a mistake.

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Vowel Changes Change Soundex

Name spellings that interchange vowels with consonants (or the other way around), usually create spellings that have a different soundex code. A Soundex search for Chaney will not catch the Chaney spelling.

The exceptions are for names that have more than three separate consonant sounds after the initial letter. Letters after the third consonant sound (after the first letter) are ignored in Soundex searches.

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Be Willing to Erase

Review your conclusions. Take a second look at material you compiled early in your research. Be willing to question research your “finished” years ago. Admit mistakes when you make them. It’s not the end of the world. You should want your research to be correct. Genealogy is not a crusade to show your first conclusion was right no matter what. We all learn as we research and sometimes we learn that our first conclusion was not right.

Genealogy Tip of the Day is sponsored by GenealogyBank.

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Residential Clues from Bondsmen

Bondsmen should know the person for whom they are signing a bond. They probably trust them as well–or at least they should.

The residences of bondsmen are potential clues as to the general area where the person for whom they signed the bond lived. Depending upon what you know–that could be helpful. In 1903, Herman Haase had two men serve as his bondsmen on his bond. Herman lived nearly twenty miles from where the estate’s property was located. His bondsmen lived near him–not near where the property was located–because they knew him.

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A Hundred and Sixteen Years Ago…


It’s rare to get pictures in newspaper clipping from this era, but there’s one for Philip Troutfetter in this 1902 account of his exploits.

The newspaper also includes a few statements that have never been located in other records. It also somewhat incorrectly characterizes how he got the money from his mother-in-law and he was never completely prosecuted on the charges. To date, we have not located information on his supposed correspondent’s columns from Cuba either.

This newspaper item was located on GenealogyBank.

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The Cs Are All Neighbors?

People do not live in alphabetical order. When viewing earlier records, determine if the records have been put in rough alphabetical order. That strips some of the geographic residential clues that some records provide. The names in this 1800 census all live in the same township, but are not necessarily “close” neighbors as the names have been grouped by initial letter of the last name.

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