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.


First Name Translations

Keep in mind that if your ancestor “translated” his or her name they might have used conventional translations others from their ethnic area used or they might have made up their own. Some non-English names had common translations (Jans and Johann for John, for example) and others did not (the Greek Panagiotis, for example). Some individuals just might take an English name that had the first letter as their original name. I have relatives whose names were actually Trientje. Some used Tena because it had part of the same sound. Others used Katherine as the names have the same original root. It just depends.

People had options of what name they could use if they chose to translate.


A Dummy Database

If you’re just getting started with a new software package or consider trying features of your current program that you’ve never used before, considering doing the experimentation on a “dummy” database.

Then if things do not work correctly or you mess things up entirely,  you still have the original.