Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Search NewsBank’s GenealogyBank for your ancestors.

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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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Early US Deaths in Years Ending in Zero

Sometimes a census record is all we have to indicate that an ancestor lived until a certain point in time and that enumeration is often used as a “last alive on” date. Whenever I see an unsourced death date of 1800, 1810, etc. for an ancestor in an online tree or any reference, I wonder:

did someone enter his death date as “after 1800” and did someone (or their software) strip the “after” from that date?

Several genealogists indicate that a relative died in 1800–no source. The last census in which he is recorded is 1800. While I don’t use these unsourced dates of death in my own records, I still wonder if there is any credence to the year of death they have. Did they find something that I have overlooked?

But when the year ends in a “0,” I really wonder if the “after” got stripped from the approximate date of death.

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Non-Resident Landowners

Not everyone who owned land lived on it.

Deeds of sale and acquisition may indicate where the property owner actually lived. Some property tax records (if still extant) may indicate properties that were owned by non-residents. Heirs may own property even after they have left an area and, in the early days of settlement, speculators may acquire larger amounts of property in hopes of turning a profit.

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Can’t Find the Deed of Acquisition?

If your ancestor owned property, he somehow acquired it. If there is no apparent deed for him in the index of records, consider the following possibilities:

  • your relative inherited the property and there was no actual deed of acquisition–the will served as the deed
  • your ancestor’s name was spelled really incorrectly on the deed–minor spelling issues aside, this was usually not the case
  • your ancestor acquired the property via a patent–which somehow never was recorded
  • your ancestor’s deed simply did not get in the index
  • the county boundary changed and the acquisition records are recorded in the county where the property was located at the time it was acquired
  • the deed never was recorded
  • you overlooked it in the index
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Do You Know What You Have?

Between Google searches, mindlessly surfing the internet, and websites that serve up results from numerous databases, it is easy to locate an image of a record and have no idea what that record is of.

It’s important that you find out and not assume.

There are several reasons, including:

  • citations can’t be made if you don’t know what the record is
  • you may have a cropped portion of the original image
  • the record may be just one page in a multi-page document
  • there may be other records generated as a part of the process that created the record you did find an image of

Ask your genealogy colleagues, genealogy society members, genealogy Facebook group members, etc. what the record is of if you don’t know. Not asking and assuming could end up creating a brick wall you never should have had in the first place.

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