Category Archives: Uncategorized

Establish Parameters

Hasty research increases the chance that incorrect conclusions are made and that we include records for our “person of interest” who is not really our person of interest.

To reduce the chance mistakes are made, take the records that you “know” are for your person of interest and estimate whichever items you do not have specifically:

  • a time frame for when they were born
  • an approximate location for where they were born
  • a time frame for their marriage
  • an approximate location for their marriage
  • a time frame for their death
  • an approximate location for their death

For all of these approximations, include your reason why you think the time frames and locations are reasonable–you should have at least one source document. These reasons combined with the records are key.

Then look at the “new” records you think are for your ancestor. How closely do they match your expectations? Is the difference reasonable? Is it possible your conjectures were wrong?

It may also cause you to question whether the records that you were “sure” were for your ancestor are really your ancestor at all.
We’ve simplified the analysis process here–but this general framework, armed with analysis and contemplation, is a good start.


Providing Proof of Provenance

The “provenance” of a family heirloom, picture, etc. is “how you know it is what it is and how you came to have it.”

Think about the provenance of every item you have. A relative pointed out to me that I have quite a few pictures from my Ufkes family. They came from my maternal grandparents.

Then it dawned on me. The family home burned in 1924 and most of the pictures are from before that year. Did the family get the pictures out? Did other relatives share pictures with them or give them pictures? I’ll never know, but just thinking about who else might have had the pictures in 1924 got me to thinking about various family members who might have had pictures.

And thinking about provenance is never a bad thing.


Get It When You Know What It Says

Sometimes researchers don’t get specific records because they “know what the record will say.” Sometimes the record may say exactly what you think it will. And other times it will say something completely different. While it may not always be inexpensive, if you have a “brick wall” ancestor, make certain you have not avoided getting records because “you know what they will say.”

Something unexpected in those records may answer your question.

Buyers at Estate Sales

When in a pinch, lists of purchasers at estate sales can provide clues as to ancestral associates and relatives. Individuals who purchased the property of your deceased relative likely knew him.

I usually focus initially on any person who purchased more than two items as a potential relative or “close connection.” Those people may have lived where your ancestor used to live or ended up moving where later members of the family moved to.

I’ll follow up on the ones who purchased one item as well, but starting with the purchasers of more items is a good way to start.


AncestryDNA Class–July 2018

Based on many requests, we’ve added this class to our schedule for July:

AncestryDNA–5 weeks


  • Understanding what can and cannot be learned from the AncestryDNA test
  • Strategies for “figuring out” people who do not return communication
  • Probability of relationship based on shared DNA and relationship scenarios not presented
  • Downloading AncestryDNA matches into an Excel spreadsheet and working with those matches and that spreadsheet
  • Determining what matches you want to try and figure out
  • Tracking results and findings
  • Problem-solving
  • Looking at the results when the grandfather was an adoptee who wasn’t the birth father of one of his children
  • Analyzing tree for ethnic/geographic pools
  • Sorting matches that can’t be determined specifically
  • Keeping your list of matches up to date

More details are on our announcement page.


Where Did You Get That Date?

We are not talking about the high school prom.

If you have a date of birth, death, or marriage for an ancestor, you had to get it from somewhere. Sources should be cited. If the date is an approximation from an age at death, state so.

If birth date is an approximation based on the marriage date, indicate that.

Just don’t drop dates in willy-nilly without a source.

And if you don’t know where you got your prom date, well that’s another story entirely.