Those Other People On the Manifest

Always look at the names of other individuals who are travelling with your ancestor and listed on a passenger manifest–especially if they are from the same village. I had often wondered who the 12-year old (was that traveled with my uncle John Adam Trautvetter. Turns out that John Valentine Senf was the son of John Adam’s sister.

Those travelling companions might be more connected than you think. 

To An Imaginary Stranger

Can’t find that ancestor in a certain record? Can’t find the parents for a certain ancestor? Write up all the work you have done to find that record or set of parents. Explain the sources you have used, why they were used, and what was located. Pretend that you are writing it for someone who knows nothing about your family and not much about the time period or location in which you are researching.

When you explain something to someone who does not have your familiarity with the details, you are apt to notice gaps. And any of those gaps could be part of your problem.

Pretend You Found It

It can be frustrating to not be able to locate a record. As a problem-solving approach to try and locate it, pretend you found it. What would be on the record? Where would it be located? Where would it have been recorded? All of those are details that may help you actually find the record.

US Censuses Online at FamilySearch

Reminder that all US federal censuses are free on FamilySearch:

Genealogy Search Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Try their “GenealogyBank Search” and see what discoveries you make.

Agreeing to Agree

Just because seemingly different sources agree does not mean that they have to be correct–it just means that they agree. Consider whether or not the sources are truly independent. Sometimes different “sources” have the same actual person directly or indirectly providing the information. My grandmother’s 1935 marriage record, 1994 death certificate, and 1994 obituary all provide the same place of birth for her.  Grandma was essentially the informant on all three because her children provided what they were told for the death certificate and the obituary.

And all three gave places different from Grandma was actually born.

Just because Grandma was consistent does not necessarily mean that she was correct.

Searching for People I “Already Know About”

Some researchers ask “Why search for someone I already know ‘everything’ on?” or someone “I’m not really researching?”
This is why. Because they can lead you to someone else.

A search for my great-uncle, Alvin Ufkes, located a reference to him as a pallbearer at the 1962 funeral in Quincy, Illinois, for sister of his grandmother .

I may never have located the death notice and the obituary for Anna Buhrmeister (a few days earlier) if I had not searched for my great-uncle in the collection from which this image was taken.

 

Inscribed in Stone is No Guarantee

Stones aren’t always correct.

This stone has a date of death for the wife that differs from the date of birth listed on her guardianship in the 1850s. The stone is transcribed as written–I don’t change what something says.

But the guardianship record is more contemporary to Franciska’s birth and the informant on that record is likely her mother.

Based on estate records for husband John, this stone was erected after his death in 1917–some time after Franciska died with information provided by someone who did not have first hand knowledge.

I indicate exactly what the stone says, but for I would give the most credence to the date of birth from the record that was created most closely to her actual birth.

My Blogs

I maintain the following genealogy blogs:

  • Rootdig.comMichael’s thoughts, research problems, suggestions, and whatever else crosses his desk
  • Genealogy Tip of the Dayone genealogy research tip every day–short and to the point
  • Genealogy Search Tipwebsites I’ve discovered and the occasional online research tip–short and to the point?

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